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Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or commonly known as Superfund) in response to a growing national concern about the release of hazardous substances from abandoned waste sites. Under CERCLA Congress gave the federal government broad authority to regulate hazardous substances, to respond to releases of hazardous substance, and to develop long-term solutions for the nation's most serious hazardous waste problems.

Hazardous substances are stored and managed at facilities throughout the Department of Energy (DOE). DOE Headquarters provides technical assistance and support to Departmental programs and sites on issues related to implementation and compliance with CERCLA regulations. Headquarters also provides technical assistance on newly issued guidance or other requirements and advocates for the Department’s interests regarding proposed CERCLA initiatives. Headquarters serves as the corporate resource and conducts the following:

  • provides technical support and compliance assistance;
  • develops guidance on compliance topics and new requirements;
  • coordinates DOE response to emerging policies;
  • conducts document reviews;
  • participates in independent assessments and conducts on-site assistance visits; and,
  • interfaces with EPA on compliance issues.

Also, any time a hazardous substance as defined under CERCLA is released to the environment, and if that release exceeds its reportable quantity (RQ) within a 24-hour period, then the release must be reported to the National Response Center. To assist the field in determining if any release of a hazardous substance exceeds its designated reportable quantity DOE developed the RQ-Calculator.