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Radiation Emergencies
Emergency Response:

Radiological Emergency Response Laws

Emergency Preparedness
and Response

A number of statutes provide EPA with the authority and responsibility to respond to emergencies.

On this page:



Public Health Service Act

1944 - as amended in '57, '58, '60, '76 (42 USC 201 et seq.)

The PHSA provides EPA the authority to monitor environmental radiation levels and provide technical assistance to states and other federal agencies in planning for and responding to radiological emergencies.

The PHSA provides EPA with the authority to conduct a range of radiation protection activities:

Full text of the Public Health Service Act Exit EPA Disclaimer

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1980 - Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act as amended, 1986, 1990 (42 USC 9601 et seq.)

CERCLA (commonly known as Superfund) creates a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries and provides broad federal authority to respond directly to releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants that may endanger public health or the environment. CERCLA also authorizes and directs EPA to carry out a program of training and evaluation of training needs in the procedures for the handling and removal of hazardous substances.

CERCLA applies to hazardous substances defined by other environmental laws. For example, since the Clean Air Act amendments list radionuclides as hazardous substances, they are covered by CERCLA.

CERCLA authorizes two kinds of response actions:

These response actions are conducted in accordance with the concept of operations contained in the NCP (40 CFR Part 300).

While the above is a general description of how CERCLA works, response actions are handled somewhat differently at federal and federally licensed sites. This reflects the division of radiation protection responsibilities among various federal agencies. For example:

Full text of the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Compensation Act Exit EPA Disclaimer

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Stafford Act

The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act was enacted to support state and local governments and their citizens when their resources are overwhelmed by the effects of a disaster. The law establishes the process for requesting and obtaining a Presidential disaster declaration, defines the type and scope of assistance available under the Stafford Act, and sets the conditions for obtaining assistance.

Full text of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act Exit EPA Disclaimer

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