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Reforms By Type - Enforcement

The drive toward a faster, fairer, more efficient Superfund

CleanupsEconomic Redevelopment • Enforcement • Innovative TechnologyPublic Involvement/Environmental JusticeRisk AssessmentState and Tribal Empowerment
 Bruin Lagoon site, PA
All three rounds of reforms have focused on improving the critical but challenging process of enforcement at Superfund sites. Through the reforms, EPA has worked to increase fairness, reduce transaction costs, and expedite settlements. The benefits of a reformed enforcement process have extended to prospective purchasers of Superfund properties as well as to parties currently involved with a site.

For example, EPA's efforts at the Hansen Containers site in Denver, Colorado, have demonstrated the improvements made by the enforcement reforms. Waste Management Inc., on behalf of Oil and Solvent Process Company, issued a letter in September 1998 which highlighted the successes of EPA's enforcement Superfund Reforms.

The following quotes are excerpts from that letter:

"[EPA] Region VIII is to be commended for its innovative approach in these consent decrees which resulted in settlements quicker and with fewer transaction costs than probably would have been possible if the Agency had followed more conventional methods."

"Through the use of alternative dispute resolution EPA accomplished this feat in a very cost-effective fashion."

"Even without the need to be part of EPA's pilot allocation projects, the Region was willing to consider a fundamentally different approach to allocation at the site. We applaud the Region's use of a third-party neutral and senior agency officials to overcome obstacles to settlement."

"The proposed Hansen Containers settlements demonstrate a very substantial commitment by Region VIII to aggressively execute the Superfund Reforms in connection with this site and to take other initiatives which promote early settlement, reduce costs, and foster cooperation among the stakeholders."

Note: For further information on Enforcement Reforms, also see the website of OECA's Office of Site Remediation Enforcement, and the page with Site Remediation and Enforcement Documents.

Reform 3-11: Orphan Share Compensation

To reward cooperative parties and reduce litigation, EPA compensates parties for a limited portion of the costs attributable to insolvent parties (i.e., the orphan share) at sites where parties agree to perform the cleanup.

Reform 3-12: Site-Specific Special Accounts

EPA directs settlement funds designated for future site costs to be placed in site-specific accounts and ensures that interest earned on those funds is credited to the accounts.

Reform 3-13: Equitable Issuance of Unilateral Administrative Orders (UAOs)

This reform is designed to ensure that UAOs are issued equitably to appropriate parties following consideration of the party's liability, their financial viability, and their contribution to the site. EPA anticipates that this will increase the likelihood of settlements and reduce private party litigation.

Reform 3-14: Revised De Micromis Guidance

This reform is intended to improve EPA's ability to resolve very small volume waste contributors' (i.e., de micromis) liability concerns quickly and fairly.

Reform 3-15: Adopting Private Party Allocations

In order to reduce transaction costs, EPA has committed to adopt private party allocations (including those that identify an orphan share) as the basis for settlement, where such allocations are approved by EPA.

Reform 3-16: Reduced Oversight for Capable and Cooperative PRPs

This initiative encourages Regions to acknowledge PRPs that consistently perform high quality work by significantly reducing or tiering oversight, thereby reducing transaction costs.

Reform 2-1: PRP Search Pilots

EPA piloted several procedures to improve the quality and timeliness of potentially responsible party (PRP) searches, to make information obtained more accessible, and to identify a larger universe of PRPs earlier in the process. Ongoing efforts continue to improve the PRP search process.

Reform 2-2: Expedited Settlements

EPA identified eligible parties and offered them expedited settlements (ability to pay settlements and early de minimis settlements) at pilot sites. Lessons learned have been incorporated into guidance.

Reform 2-3: Allocation Pilots

EPA has been piloting a process to allocate responsibility for response costs among all parties at selected pilot sites.

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