Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

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The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, was enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. This law created a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provided broad Federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances that may endanger public health or the environment. Over five years, $1.6 billion was collected and the tax went to a trust fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. - (

CERCLA (as well as OPA) authorizes Natural Resource Damage Assessments or NRDA. Natural resource injuries may occur at sites as a result of releases of hazardous substances or oil. Trustees use NRDAs to assess injury to natural resources held in the public trust. This is an initial step toward restoring injured resources and services and toward compensating the public for their loss. - (

Natural Resource Damage Assessment page provides more information about these procedures.


  • In the Salish Sea CERCLA is commonly implemented at industrial ports, where aquatic ecosystems have been contaminated due to adjacent terrestrial activity.