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Superfund/Brownfields a.k.a. E.P.A.’s Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)

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The Superfund Program was created in 1980 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).1 The fund provides financial resources for cleaning up sites that are contaminated with hazardous materials.2 It can be applied to residential areas that are built near contaminated areas such as previous mining sites, previous smelting sites, or pre-1978 paint manufacturing sites.3 While this monetary source focuses less on lead paint hazards within the house, it is a possible source of funding and programming if your jurisdiction faces lead contamination in the water or in the soil of residential yards due to close proximity to a contaminated site.4 While the Superfund aims to have the party responsible for the contamination to either take responsibility for the cleanup or to reimburse the cost of the cleanup, if no responsible party can be found then all funds and authority necessary to clean the site are administered through the EPA.5

Strategic Implementation

  1. If you believe your jurisdiction may qualify for this program due to lead hazard contamination, start by reporting it to the EPA.6
  2. The site will then be evaluated for the potential need for cleanup based on the EPA’s Hazard Ranking System (HRS).7
  3. If your area’s HRS score is high enough, the site will be placed on the National Priorities List, meaning it will be eligible for Superfund grants.8
  4. A description of this process can be found here and a handbook for management of residential lead contamination at superfund sites can be found here.


In 2003, the City of Omaha was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List because of severe soil lead contamination from the Asarco lead refinery.9 Approximately 14 square miles of at-risk residential properties were eligible for soil testing and cleanup as well as remediation of exterior lead-based paint hazards, paid for by the EPA.10 11 The EPA Superfund program also supported outreach and education, performed by the Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance.12 As of January 2018, the EPA has spent over $3.2 million dollars during the nearly two decades the local program has been in existence and has addressed over 93% of the lead hazards in the site.13 Concurrently, the number of kids testing positive for lead poisoning dropped from 33% in 1998 to 2% in 2015.14 More information is available here and an update on the project can be found here.

Another example is the Bunker Hill Superfund Site (Coeur d’Alene River Basin Cleanup Site), which is located in northern Idaho and eastern Washington. This site is was plagued with early mining and milling methods that led to environmental contamination from mine wastes.15 The primary method of cleanup for residential properties is removal of lead contaminated soil on the surface of properties and replacing it with uncontaminated soil.16 More information on the Bunker Hill Cleanup can be found here.

Toolkit Information

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