In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), better known as the Superfund Act. This law gives the USEPA the authority to respond to chemical emergencies and to clean up uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites. The Superfund program addresses both short and long-term risks, from toxic chemical spills and threats to the permanent cleanup and rehabilitation of abandoned hazardous waste sites.
The Superfund program evaluates sites that have been, or may have been, contaminated for admission into the federal program under CERCLA. A Superfund site (or National Priority List site) is one that was historically contaminated and that presents a significant threat to human health and the environment. Under Superfund, the US EPA can direct funds to study a specific site and to require cleanup if necessary.
The NDEP utilizes CERCLA to cleanup historic mining sites. The legacy of historic mining in Nevada is the need of environmental remediation within populations due to the risk to public health. The NDEP collaborates with EPA, tribal entities, local governments, communities, nonprofit organizations, and residents to resolve the impacts these sites have on Nevada communities and their landscapes.