The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA):

  1. established prohibitions and requirements concerning closed and abandoned hazardous waste sites;

  2. provided for liability of persons responsible for releases of hazardous waste at these sites; and

  3. established a trust fund to provide for cleanup when no responsible party could be identified.

The law authorizes two kinds of response actions::

  1. Short-term removals, where actions may be taken to address releases or threatened releases requiring prompt response.

  2. Long-term remedial response actions, that permanently and significantly reduce the dangers associated with releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances that are serious, but not immediately life threatening. These actions can be conducted only at sites listed on EPA's National Priorities List.