There is one summary for this bill. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Introduced in House (11/09/1997)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Remedy Selection

Title II: Liability

Title III: Brownfields

Title IV: Natural Resource Damages

Title V: State Role

Title VI: Federal Facilities

Title VII: Community Participation

Title VIII: Miscellaneous

Title IX: Funding

Subtitle A: Expenditures From the Hazardous Substance

Superfund

Subtitle B: 5-Year Extension of Hazardous Substance

Superfund

Superfund Reform Act - Title I: Remedy Selection - Amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to revise remedy selection provisions.

Requires final remedies for nonthreshold carcinogens to limit cumulative, lifetime additional cancer risk from exposure to hazardous substances from releases at the facility concerned to within the range of one in 10,000 to one in 1 million for the affected population or subpopulation. Requires exposure assessments to be consistent with the current and reasonably anticipated uses of land, water, and other resources identified by the President.

Directs the President, for purposes of selecting appropriate methods of remediation for a given facility, to identify current and reasonably anticipated uses of land, water, and other resources at and around the facility and the timing of such uses.

Requires the President, in identifying current and reasonably anticipated future groundwater uses, to defer to State determinations regarding such uses where the State has made such determination on a facility-specific basis. Prohibits, unless the State has made a determination otherwise, the use of groundwater from being identified as drinking water for groundwater: (1) that contains more than 10,000 milligrams per liter total dissolved solids; (2) that is so contaminated by naturally occurring conditions or by the effects of human activity unrelated to a specific activity that restoration of drinking water quality is impracticable; or (3) if the potential source of drinking water is physically incapable of yielding 150 gallons per day of water to a well or spring without adverse environmental consequences.

Directs the President to use site-specific risk assessment to: (1) determine the nature and extent of risk to human health and the environment; (2) identify groups which are currently or would be highly exposed or susceptible to contamination based on current and reasonably anticipated uses of land, water, and other resources or to risks arising from implementation of a remedial option; (3) assist in establishing remedial objectives for the facility respecting releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances and in identifying geographic areas or exposure pathways of concern; and (4) evaluate alternative remedial actions for a facility to determine their risk reduction benefits.

Requires final remedies to seek to remediate usable groundwater to beneficial use within a reasonable time frame. Directs the President to provide for the long-term monitoring of groundwater, where appropriate.

Revises provisions regarding the degree of cleanup. Provides that the standards set forth in CERCLA shall govern the level or standard of control for remedies, remedy selection, and on-site management of hazardous substances in lieu of any other Federal, State, or local standards, except as otherwise provided.

Requires point source discharges or emissions of hazardous substances into U.S. waters or ambient air that result from remediation technology used in the conduct of a remedy to comply with State and Federal standards respecting such discharges or emissions.

Provides that selected remedies shall attain a level or standard which meets promulgated State standards for protection applicable to remedial actions, unless the President makes a certain finding.

Requires final remedies to prevent or eliminate, at a minimum, human ingestion of drinking water containing hazardous substances in levels exceeding Maximum Contaminant Levels under the Safe Drinking Water Act, including the provision of an alternate water supply.

Provides that compliance with State standards for protection shall not be required unless such standards are of general applicability, consistently applied, and identified to the President in a timely fashion.

Directs the President to consider new procedures for conducting remedial investigations and feasibility studies in an efficient, cost-effective, and timely manner. Requires the President to emphasize performance-based standards. Provides for a phased approach to site characterization and remediation in which remedies are arrived at through a sequence of investigations and actions.

Directs the President to maintain a registry of restrictions on the use of land, water, or other resources through institutional controls that are included in final records of decisions as part of the basis of decision at National Priority List (NPL) facilities.

Requires the President to study and report on the use and effectiveness of institutional controls at NPL facilities and to issue recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

(Sec. 102) Requires risk assessments and characterizations conducted under CERCLA to: (1) provide scientifically objective assessments, estimates, and characterizations which neither minimize nor exaggerate the nature and magnitude of health and environmental risks; (2) distinguish scientific findings from other considerations; (3) be based on the best, relevant, and current scientific and technical information; and (4) be based on a careful analysis of the weight of scientific evidence that supports conclusions about risks to health and the environment.

Directs the President to: (1) update and publish exposure and ecological risk assessment guidelines consistent with such principles; and (2) conduct a study of the cancer potency values of 12 specified hazardous substances frequently found to pose significant risks at NPL facilities.

Requires the President to make a scientifically objective assessment of different methodologies for determining the health effects of chemical mixtures at relevant doses based on reasonable exposure scenarios at NPL facilities.

Directs the Administrator (Administrator) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enter into a contract with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review science on the relationship, if any, between lead in residential soils and blood lead levels. Requires NAS to report its findings to the Administrator and the Congress.

Directs the President to reconcile any empirical data from a statistically significant representation of residents concerning lead in blood along with other relevant information in making estimates of risk based on models, methodologies, guidance, or rules concerning the exposure, uptake, bioavailability, and biokinetics of lead in soils. Bars projections based on any such model, methodology, guidance, or rule from being used to predict blood lead levels or to select remedial actions unless such projections have been reconciled with empirical data.

(Sec. 103) Directs the President to review past Superfund records Hazardous Substance Superfund (Superfund) of decision, upon request of an interested party, to ensure that such decisions reflect the current state of knowledge with respect to remediation science and technology, best available facility data, and most recent EPA policy and guidance and to improve the cost-effectiveness of site remediation while ensuring long-term health and environmental protection. Defines a past record of decision as one selecting a remedy for an NPL site that was signed prior to October 2, 1995, and that has not been reviewed pursuant to a specified EPA directive or otherwise updated since such date.

Requires the President to establish a National Superfund Remedy Review Board to control remedy costs and to provide for protective, consistent, and cost-effective remedial decisions at NPL facilities.

Directs the Board, for remedial alternatives identified after this Act's enactment date and following identification of a preferred remedy, to review remedies for NPL facilities for which the estimated cost of the preferred remedy exceeds $15 million. Permits the Board to review remedies for which the estimated cost is less than such amount, if requested. Provides for public notice of such reviews.

(Sec. 104) Requires the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Administrator to develop and distribute educational materials on human health effects of hazardous substances to the public.

Authorizes the ATSDR Administrator to provide grant or contract assistance to individuals who may be affected by releases or threatened releases when: (1) a public health assessment is conducted at an NPL facility; or (2) a facility is being evaluated for inclusion on the NPL.

Authorizes and directs the ATSDR Administrator, pursuant to such grants or contracts, to provide diagnostic services, health data registries, and preventative public health education to communities affected by such releases.

(Sec. 105) Provides for cooperation with Indian tribes with respect to certain ATSDR activities.

Requires the ATSDR Administrator to include in a biennial report on ATSDR activities the health impacts on Indian tribes of hazardous substances from covered facilities.

Directs the President, in setting priorities for remedial action under the national hazardous substance response plan (part of the national contingency plan for the removal of oil and hazardous substances), to place highest priority on facilities with releases resulting in actual ongoing human exposures at levels of public health concern or demonstrated adverse effects.

(Sec. 107) Alters the criteria for the continuance of obligations for removal actions to provide that actions shall not continue after $3 million (currently, $2 million) has been obligated or two years (currently, 12 months) have elapsed from the date of initial response to a release or threatened release of hazardous substances.

(Sec. 108) Authorizes the President, in order to respond to a release of a hazardous substance, to acquire a hazardous substance easement which limits or controls the use of land, water, or other natural resources. Permits easements and notices of property use restrictions to be used whenever institutional controls have been selected as a component of remedial action for an NPL site. Makes easements enforceable for 20-year periods (unless terminated pursuant to this Act) against owners of affected property or persons who acquire interest in, or rights to use, the property.

(Sec. 109) Makes amendments made by this title applicable to final remedial actions selected under CERCLA for which records of decision were signed, or consent decrees were lodged, after this Act's enactment and to any modifications to records of decision made after such date.

Title II: Liability - Provides exemptions to liability under CERCLA, with stated exceptions, for releases occurring in connection with arranging for disposal, treatment, transport, or acceptance of hazardous substances, with respect to: (1) pre-1987 activities at non-federally owned NPL facilities or vessels; (2) activities at such facilities or vessels that involved only municipal solid waste or sewage sludge; or (3) de micromis activities.

Absolves of liability certain owners or operators who acquired the concerned facility or vessel by inheritance or bequest. Limits liability for certain owners or operators who are also tax-exempt organizations.

Exempts from liability: (1) construction contractors whose liability is based solely on a contracted construction activity at the facility or vessel concerned; (2) certain railroad owners or operators of spur tracks; or (3) persons whose liability is based on status as a holder of a pipeline right-of-way or easement or of a gas or oil lease if such a person does not cause, or contribute or consent to, the release or threat of release.

Limits liability for certain municipalities and other owners or operators of NPL landfill facilities.

Requires the Administrator to seek to minimize the administrative and legal burdens on non-liable parties.

Makes amendments pertaining to liability exemptions and limitations inapplicable to: (1) actions brought for contribution to response costs or natural resource damage restoration incurred before November 9, 1997; or (2) actions seeking indemnity, rights of defense, or other rights under any indemnification or insurance contract.

(Sec. 203) Prohibits the President from amending certain administrative orders or issuing additional orders without a subsequent finding of an imminent and substantial endangerment. Describes sufficient causes.

(Sec. 204) Revises contribution provisions to require an action by a potentially responsible party (PRP) against another PRP for recovery of costs to be commenced within the later of: (1) three years after completion of a removal action or within six years after initiation of physical on-site construction for a remedial action; or (2) three years after the date of judgment in any action for recovery or the date of any administrative order or judicial settlement for recovery of costs or damages.

(Sec. 205) Provides that a person who has resolved liability to a State or an Indian tribe in an administrative or judicially approved settlement shall not be liable for claims by persons other than the United States regarding response costs or damages addressed in the settlement. Provides the same protection for persons who have resolved liability to the United States (except for liability to a State for remedial or removal action costs). Includes protection against all claims that may be asserted against the settling party for recovery of costs or damages paid by another person if addressed in the settlement, except claims based on contractual indemnification.

Limits the right to seek contribution from other parties where: (1) the person asserting the right has waived such right in a settlement; (2) the person from whom the contribution is sought is not liable under CERCLA; or (3) the person from whom the contribution is sought has entered into a final settlement with the United States. Makes any person who commences a contribution action liable to the person against whom the action is brought for all reasonable costs of defending against the claim if the action: (1) is barred for the reasons stated above; (2) is brought against a person who is protected from suits by reason of settlement with the United States; or (3) is brought during a specified moratorium period.

(Sec. 206) Expands the exemption from liability for response action contractors to include exemption from liability under State or local law unless a State has enacted a law determining liability of such contractors.

Extends certain indemnification agreements made by the President with respect to negligence of response action contractors to any claims for negligence arising under State or local law.

Bars actions against contractors more than six years after the completion of work. Makes such prohibition inapplicable in cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct or in States or political subdivisions where the State has enacted a statute determining liability for such contractors.

Extends certain provisions relating to surety bonds with respect to direct Federal procurement of response actions.

(Sec. 207) Revises conditions of eligibility for expedited final settlements. Makes eligible for such settlements certain parties whose liability is based on arranging for the treatment, disposal, or transport of, or accepting, the hazardous substances concerned and who have a demonstrated inability to pay response costs.

(Sec. 208) Requires the President to initiate an allocation process for each response action at a non-federally owned NPL facility eligible for fair share funding under this Act.

Makes such process inapplicable to actions for which there has been a final settlement, decree, or order determining liability and share of responsibility before November 9, 1997.

Places a moratorium on litigation seeking recovery of response costs or contributions in connection with actions for which the President is required to initiate allocations until 90 days after issuance of the allocator's report or of a subsequent report under this section. Stays pending actions or claims, including those under State law, until such prescribed period unless the court determines that a stay will result in manifest injustice.

Establishes a moratorium on enforcement orders by the Administrator or suits by the Attorney General to or against facilities subject to allocation for the same time period.

Sets forth requirements for the President in initiating the allocation process.

Describes the authorities of a neutral allocator, to be selected by the Administrator and acceptable to the PRPs.

Permits PRPs to submit the names of additional PRPs to the allocator.

Sets forth confidentiality requirements with respect to information submitted to the allocator.

Requires the allocator to prepare a nonbinding allocation of percentage shares of responsibility to each allocation party and to the fair share funding (the amount to be allocated to the Superfund) without regard to theory of joint and several liability and based on specified equitable factors.

Directs the allocator to adopt, in lieu of the allocation report, any agreement among some or all of the allocation parties that allocates 80 percent of the recoverable costs to the signatories if the settlement contains a waiver of all claims against all other allocation parties for contribution.

Sets forth: (1) conditions under which the Administrator and Attorney General may reject the allocator's report; and (2) requirements for settlements based on allocations.

Entitles parties who incur costs in excess of the percentage share allocated by the allocator to reimbursement from Superfund of such excess amounts.

Authorizes the Administrator to commence an action against any party that has not resolved its liability following an allocation and to recover unrecovered response costs, including amounts constituting fair share funding.

(Sec. 210) Absolves persons (other than owners or operators) who arranged for the recycling of recyclable material from liability for environmental response actions.

Deems transactions involving scrap paper, plastic, glass, textiles, or rubber (other than whole tires) to be arranging for recycling if the person who arranged the transaction demonstrates that the following criteria were met: (1) the recyclable material met a commercial specification grade and a market existed for the material; (2) a substantial portion of the material was made available for use as a feedstock for the manufacture of a new saleable product; (3) the material (or product made from the material) could have been a replacement for a virgin raw material; and (4) with respect to transactions occurring 90 days after this Act's enactment, the person exercised reasonable care to determine that the facility where the material would be managed by another was in compliance with Federal, State, or local environmental laws or regulations.

Deems transactions involving scrap metal to be arranging for recycling if the person who arranged the transaction demonstrates that:

(1) the criteria for scrap materials were met; (2) he or she complied with applicable standards regarding activities associated with the recycling of scrap metals; and (3) the scrap metal was not melted prior to the transaction.

Deems transactions involving spent lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, or other batteries to be arranging for recycling if the person involved demonstrates that: (1) the criteria for scrap materials were met; and (2) he or she complied with applicable Federal environmental standards regarding such batteries.

Makes the exemptions from liability under this Act inapplicable if the person: (1) had an objectively reasonable basis to believe at the time of the recycling transaction that the recyclable material would not be recycled or would be burned as fuel or for energy recovery or incineration or that the consuming facility was not in compliance with Federal, State, or local environmental laws or regulations; (2) had reason to believe that hazardous substances had been added to the material for purposes other than processing for recycling; or (3) failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to the management of the material.

Makes such exemptions inapplicable, with respect to any item of a recyclable material, if the item: (1) contained polychlorinated biphenyls at a concentration exceeding 50 parts per million or any new Federal standard; or (2) is scrap paper containing a concentration of hazardous substances determined to present a significant human health or environmental risk.

Title III: Brownfields - Land Recycling Act of 1997 - Prohibits, with exceptions, the President and any person other than a State from using authorities of CERCLA or the Solid Waste Disposal Act to commence an administrative or judicial action with respect to a release or threatened release at a facility that is, or has been, the subject of a voluntary response plan in a State that certifies that it has enacted a program established to allow a person to respond voluntarily to the release or threatened release of hazardous substances at a facility. Declares that such prohibition shall not affect the Administrator's authority to gather information at facilities where there may be a substantial endangerment of human health or the environment, but only for purposes of determining whether a facility qualifies for listing on the NPL. Exempts facility response activities conducted entirely onsite as part of a voluntary response plan from Federal permit requirements.

Requires the Administrator to provide assistance to States for establishing such programs.

(Sec. 304) Amends CERCLA, with respect to defenses to liability of an owner of after-acquired property, to deem a person to have made (under current law, "undertaken") appropriate inquiry into the property's previous ownership and uses if the person establishes that an environmental site assessment was conducted which meets specified requirements (compliance with an American Society for Testing and Materials standard or with standards issued by the Administrator) and the person fulfills certain responsibilities concerning information compilation.

(Sec. 305) Absolves from liability for response actions bona fide prospective purchasers to the extent liability at a facility for a release or threat thereof is based solely on ownership or operation of a facility. Gives a lien upon a facility to the United States for unrecovered response costs in any case in which there are such unrecovered costs for which the owner is not liable by reason of this Act and the facility's fair market value has increased above that which existed six months before the action was taken.

(Sec. 306) Exempts from liability certain owners or operators of real property contiguous to property on which there has been a release or threat thereof. Authorizes the President to grant such persons an assurance of no enforcement action and protection against cost recovery and contribution actions.

Title IV: Natural Resource Damages - Sets forth provisions regarding the designation of trustees for natural resources by Indian tribes.

(Sec. 406) Limits the measure of damages to a natural resource to reasonable costs of restoration, temporary restoration, and assessment of damages. Bars recovery based on non-use values. Prohibits the use of contingent valuation methodology and other economic polling techniques to value lost natural resource services or restoration alternatives.

(Sec. 407) Sets forth requirements for damage assessments by Federal, State, and Indian tribe trustees.

(Sec. 409) Permits damages recovered by trustees to be available only for restoration, replacement, or acquisition of natural resources.

(Sec. 410) Precludes trustees who receive compensation for injury to, destruction of, or loss of a natural resource pursuant to this Act from recovering compensation for the same natural resource pursuant to any other State or Federal law. Bars recovery under such other laws if recovery for such resources is made under this Act. Prohibits double liability for such resources in the same manner as double recovery is barred.

Bars recovery for injury to, destruction of, or loss of natural resources where such damages and the release of a hazardous substance from which such damages resulted occurred wholly before December 11, 1980.

(Sec. 412) Authorizes Federal or State natural resource trustees or Indian tribes seeking natural resource damages to initiate mediation with PRPs by means of the mediation procedure or another alternative dispute resolution method recognized by the district court in which the action is filed.

(Sec. 413) Makes this title inapplicable to actions to recover natural resources damages in which a trial has begun before July 1, 1997, or in which a final settlement, decree, or order has been issued before such date.

Title V: State Role - Authorizes the Administrator to delegate authority to States to: (1) take specified actions at NPL facilities, including actions relating to response, cost recovery, remedy selection, settlements, allocations, and community participation; and (2) implement a State hazardous substance response program in lieu of the response action authorities of this Act at NPL facilities.

Sets forth administrative provisions and restrictions on such authority.

Permits the Administrator to withdraw State authority under certain conditions.

Sets forth provisions regarding the delisting of facilities from the NPL based on statements by a State Governor.

(Sec. 503) Requires the Administrator to fund the cost to a State of exercising any delegated authorities as such costs arise, where such costs may be determined on a site-specific basis, with the exception of costs relating to removal authority which shall be reimbursed in accordance with another provision.

Sets forth conditions under which the Administrator may deny funding to, or recover funds from, a State in cases where a State cleanup standard is more stringent than a Federal one.

(Sec. 504) Revises provisions requiring contracts with States before remedial actions are provided to prohibit the Administrator or a State to which authorities have been delegated from providing any remedial action unless the State enters into an agreement providing assurances that it will pay ten percent of the costs of the action and ten percent of the costs of operation and maintenance. Exempts actions to be taken on Indian lands from such conditions.

(Sec. 505) Permits the President to add a facility to the NPL only with the concurrence of the Governor of the State in which the facility is located.

(Sec. 506) Extends certain provisions authorizing reimbursements by the President to local governments affected by releases or threatened releases to affected States as well.

Title VI: Federal Facilities - Sets forth provisions regarding enforcement and dispute resolution regarding remedy selection at Federal facilities for which authorities have been delegated to a State.

(Sec. 602) Allows the President to designate NPL-listed or -proposed Federal facilities to facilitate the development of innovative technologies for remedial action. Requires a report to the Congress.

(Sec. 605) Revises provisions regarding the applicability of specified provisions of CERCLA to the U.S. Government. Makes the United States subject to all Federal, State, interstate, and local substantive and procedural requirements, including administrative orders and penalties and fines, and reasonable service charges. States that neither the United States nor any agent, employee, or officer shall be immune from any court process with respect to the enforcement of injunctive relief.

(Sec. 608) Requires Federal agencies to conduct annual studies to determine environmental management priorities at NPL facilities and report to the Congress.

Title VII: Community Participation - Requires the Administrator to provide for meaningful public participation in every significant phase of a response action through public meetings.

Directs the Administrator to solicit and evaluate concerns, interests, and information from the community.

Authorizes community members to propose remedial action alternatives to the Administrator.

Sets forth minimum requirements for documents made available to the public which describe risk to human health.

Authorizes civil actions to require Federal compliance with community involvement provisions.

(Sec. 702) Requires the Governor of a State where a facility is located to create a community assistance group for an NPL-listed or -proposed proposed facility if: (1) it would be helpful in promoting meaningful consultation among persons interested in response action; or (2) requested by a specified number of residents, a representative group of PRPs, or any local governmental entity with jurisdiction over the facility.

Lists responsibilities of such groups, including to solicit views of the community with respect to remedial actions and to serve as the community representative during the response action planning and implementation process.

Makes such groups preferred recipients of technical assistance grants.

(Sec. 703) Provides for technical assistance grants to citizen groups affected by releases at NPL facilities. Bars the approval of any grant application unless the applicant agrees to fully participate in the community assistance group and to present questions, concerns, and suggestions to the organization whenever possible.

Title VIII: Miscellaneous - Revises existing definitions and adds new definitions of terms.

(Sec. 803) Requires the Administrator to establish a small business Superfund assistance section within the EPA small business ombudsman office.

(Sec. 806) Revises CERCLA report requirements.

(Sec. 808) Requires the President to: (1) establish spending priorities for remedial actions based on criteria for determining priorities among releases and the most risk reduction for funds spent; (2) publish a proposed budget for expenditures for a fiscal year for remedial actions based on spending priorities; and (3) establish a National Remediation Advisory Committee to make recommendations on the budget and review public comments. Authorizes the establishment of regional remediation advisory committees as well.

(Sec. 809) Encourages the President to give greater decisionmaking authority to remedial project managers in order to increase the pace of cleanups, reduce paperwork and administrative costs, and reduce delays in making response action decisions.

Directs the President to: (1) require such managers to receive adequate training in environmental management; and (2) conduct a review of existing training facilities to determine whether a national environmental training center should be established to provide training for such managers and other personnel.

(Sec. 810) Bars CERCLA authorities from being used to commence an administrative or judicial action with respect to source, special nuclear, or byproduct material that is subject to decontamination regulations issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for license termination under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 or by States with such regulatory duties unless requested by the NRC or the State, as appropriate.

Title IX: Funding - Subtitle A: Expenditures from the Hazardous Substance Superfund - Revises the list of activities for which expenditures from Superfund are authorized. Permits the President to use Superfund monies for administrative costs directly related to the costs of authorized activities.

Repeals provisions regarding the assumption of certain liability by the Post-closure Liability Fund.

(Sec. 902) Authorizes appropriations to Superfund for FY 1998 through 2002.

Subtitle B: 5-Year Extension of Hazardous Substance Superfund - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend the collection of Superfund taxes through 2002. Increases the aggregate tax which may be collected from $11.97 billion to $22 billion until December 31, 2002. Extends the repayment deadline.