Superfund 101

Superfund 101

For a full description of the Superfund process and additional resources, visit the EPA Superfund website here.

The Superfund process consists of nine steps:

  1. Preliminary Assessment/Site Inspection (PA/SI)
  2. National Priorities List (NPL) Site Listing Process
  3. Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS), triggered by an EPA Consent Order to potentially responsible parties (PRPs)
  4. Record of Decision (ROD)
  5. Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA)
  6. Construction Completion
  7. Post-Construction Completion
  8. National Priorities List Deletion
  9. Site Reuse/Redevelopment

After a potential site is identified, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) begins a preliminary assessment/site inspection (PA/SI). The agency will list a site on the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites if the site meets listing criteria.

Next, EPA issues an administrative order on consent (Consent Order) to potentially responsible parties (PRPs). The Consent Order requires the PRPs to complete a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) for a site under EPA oversight. The RI is conducted to evaluate the nature and extent of contamination at the site. The FS identifies and evaluates remedial alternatives using data from the RI. The RI/FS may focus on determining the level of contamination and the risk associated with that contamination in a variety of media including surface water, sediment, air, habitat, benthic organisms, and fish. If additional data is needed to complete an evaluation of remedial alternatives, additional investigation activities may be added to the RI.

After the RI/FS, EPA selects a remedy (i.e. a cleanup plan) in a decision document called a Record of Decision (ROD). Leading up to the ROD, EPA selects a preferred remedy and presents this remedy in a document called the Proposed Plan. After the ROD, detailed cleanup plans are developed and put in place during the remedial design/remedial action (RD/RA) stage. Cleanup completion and monitoring follow, during the construction completion and post-construction completion stages. Once site remedies are fully protective of public health and the environment and a site is ready for reuse, EPA deletes the site from the NPL.

The Superfund program provides numerous opportunities for the public to participate in the cleanup process. For more information, visit the EPA’s Community Involvement page.

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