Superfund Program Overview

Contact: David Kline (517) 284-5121
Agency: Environmental Quality

Metamore Landfill drum removal


What is Superfund?


The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 [CERCLA (42 U.S.C.s/s 9601 et seq)] provides a federal "Superfund" to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites as well as accidents, spills and other emergency releases of pollutants and contaminants into the environment. The Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 [SARA (42 U.S.C. 9601 et seq.)] reauthorized CERCLA to continue cleanup activities around the country.


What is the State's role in Superfund?


The Superfund Program involves a State/federal partnership to cleanup some of the most complex and controversial sites in Michigan.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 (USEPA ) has primary responsibility.  The USEPA is obligated to consider and apply state and federal environmental laws, standards, technical comments, and community concerns when making cleanup decisions. The State of Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is responsible for financing 10% of the cost for a funded remedial action with the federal government contributing the remaining 90%. The state is responsible for 100% of the operation and maintenance costs after the remedial action is complete to verify that each site is clean.


A primary function of the section is to ensure that response actions proposed by liable parties or the USEPA meet the requirements of Part 201, Environmental Remediation, of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended ( Part 201) and other state applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements (ARARs).  Another primary function is to ensure that the remedies selected by the EPA minimize long-term O&M costs since the state is responsible for 100 percent of these costs. 


Michigan has additional statutory authority under the Natural Resources Environmental Protection Act, 1994 PA 451, as amended (NREPANREPA Rules). These statutes have given the DEQ the authority to address contaminated sites that would not be covered by the Federal Superfund Program or State enforcement programs.


What is the National Priorities List (NPL)?


The NPL List  is a list of environmentally contaminated sites, published by USEPA, which pose an immediate or significant public health threat to the local community; therefore, these sites are eligible for extensive, long-term cleanup action under the Superfund program. The NPL is required to be maintained and revised at least annually.


What is CERCLIS?


CERCLIS is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Information System.  CERCLIS contains information on hazardous waste sites, potential hazardous waste sites, and remedial activities across the nation, including sites that are on the NPL, or being considered for the NPL.


How are sites nominated for listing on the NPL?


Sites are listed on the National Priorities List (NPL) upon completion of Hazard Ranking System (HRS) screening, public solicitation of comments about the proposed site, and after all comments have been addressed.


How  many Superfund sites are there in Michigan and are they the only contaminated sites in the state?


As of October 1, 2003,Michigan had 72 active sites on the NPL. You may view a map showing the locations of Michigan Superfund Sites on the NPL.


There are also a number of non-Superfund sites in Michigan where contamination of soil or ground water is confirmed and where remediation is either underway or pending. These sites along with Superfund sites are also tracked by the Remediation and Redevelopment Division and may be found on the Inventory of Facilities web page. 


Where does the money for cleaning up Superfund sites come from?


The Superfund Trust Fund was set up to pay for the cleanup of sites. The money comes mainly from taxes on the chemical and petrochemical industries. The Trust Fund is used primarily when those companies or people responsible for contamination at Superfund sites cannot be found, or cannot perform or pay for the cleanup work. USEPA and DEQ can expend public monies to complete the required cleanup work and seek cost recovery for damages from the responsible party(ies). The possibility of having to pay three times the state's cleanup costs has been and continues to be a significant incentive for responsible parties to clean up their own sites. Close to a billion dollars from the Federal Superfund program has been appropriated to Michigan sites, since the early 1980s.


What's involved in cleaning up a Superfund site?


The Superfund process  begins when a site is discovered. After the site is screened and assessed, a decision is made as to whether the site warrants Early Action, Long-Term Remedial Action, or both. Early Actions are taken at sites that may pose an immediate threat to people or the environment. Long-Term Remedial Actions are taken at sites that require extensive cleanup. The cleanup process may consist of several phases. First, a detailed study of the site is done to identify: the cause and extent of contamination; the possible threats to the environment and the people nearby; and the options for cleaning up the site. Next, a Proposed Plan is developed by the responsible party(ies) and presented to citizens; local and state officials for comment. The Proposed Plan describes the various cleanup options under consideration. After a public meeting and comment period, the public, state and federal concerns are addressed and a Record of Decision (ROD) is published  . The ROD describes how the agency plans to cleanup the site. The cleanup method is then designed to address the unique conditions at the site where it will be used. That is followed by the remedial action or construction phase. That could involve confinement, dredging, neutralization, recycling, removal, reuse, storage and/or treatment of hazardous substances. It may take a long time to return a site to the way it was before it was contaminated, or to at least make it safe for people living around the site.


How can I find out the status of a Superfund site cleanup?


Summary reports in the Legislative Reports describe the status of remedial work at Superfund sites in Michigan and are available from the DEQ and USEPA. One of these agencies is designated as the lead for each Superfund site. You may check the NPL List to determine which one. The lead agency maintains direct oversight of the work on the site and has the most current and detailed information about the status of cleanup. You can reach the DEQ and EPA at the following locations:


DEQ Superfund Section
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
(517) 284-5105 or 1-(800)-662-9278,1607,7-135-3311_4109_4217---,00.html


USEPA - Region 5 (IN, MI, MN, OH & WI)
(312) 353-2038 or 1 (800) -424-9346