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Superfund Basics

This exercise provides a review of the liability scheme and defenses under CERCLA and briefly reviews the CERCLA cleanup process. The exercise begins when EPA discovers phenol contamination in drinking water wells of several residents of Springfield, Ames. Through a series of multiple choice questions, the student helps EPA choose a response action, identify potentially responsible parties, and decide which liable parties the agency should sue, for what damages, and under what authority.

The student also helps liable parties prepare defenses and decide whether to file cross-claims or counterclaims against other liable parties. The exercise provides the student with a variety of resources to explore when the student makes those choices, including interrogatory responses, title information, newspaper articles, and a draft complaint. Many of the important statutory provisions are hypertext-linked to the questions for ease of reference.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of the lesson, the student will be able to:

  1. Explain the differences between a removal action and a remedial action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), known also as Superfund.
  2. Discuss under what circumstances Section 104 authorizes EPA to respond to releases or substantial threats of releases.
  3. Analyze under what circumstances EPA can issue an administrative order under Section 106(a) that requires liable parties to undertake removal actions that are necessary to protect health and welfare and the environment.
  4. Describe the four broad categories of "persons" under which Section 107(a) of CERCLA imposes liability.
  5. Discuss the three affirmative defenses to liability provided by Section 107 of CERCLA..
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