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Introduced in Senate (05/20/1999)


Title I: Brownfields Revitalization

Title II: State Response Programs

Title III: Fair Share Liability Allocations and Protections

Title IV: Funding

Superfund Program Completion Act of 1999 - Title I: Brownfields Revitalization - Amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to direct the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish programs to provide grants to eligible entities (including local government units, redevelopment agencies, States, and Indian tribes) for site characterization and assessment of, and performance of response actions at, brownfields facilities. Defines a "brownfield facility," with exceptions, as real property, the expansion or redevelopment of which is complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance.

(Sec. 102) Adds CERCLA provisions governing owner-operator status of persons owning or operating property contiguous to a release site. Absolves such persons of liability as owners or operators, subject to certain conditions.

(Sec. 103) 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 provisions limiting liability of fiduciaries and the facility's fair market value has increased above that which existed 180 days before the action was taken.

(Sec. 104) Deems a person, with respect to defenses to liability of an owner of after-acquired property, to have undertaken appropriate inquiry into the property's previous ownership and uses if the person establishes that inquiries were undertaken in accordance with specified requirements (compliance with an American Society for Testing and Materials standard or with standards issued by the Administrator). Requires such owners to have exercised appropriate care with respect to the hazardous substance concerned to defend against liability. Deems the appropriate inquiry requirements to be satisfied by a site inspection and title search that reveal no basis for further investigation in the case of property for residential or similar use purchased by a nongovernmental or noncommercial entity.

Title II: State Response Programs - Adds CERCLA provisions requiring the Administrator to provide grants to States to establish and expand qualifying State response programs, comprised of elements including public participation opportunities, oversight and enforcement authorities, and certification mechanisms.

Restricts authority to take enforcement actions under CERCLA in cases of hazardous substance releases subject to a State response plan. Authorizes the President to bring enforcement actions in certain instances, including cases where a State requests assistance or is unable to conduct a response action or there is a public health or environmental emergency or migration of contamination across State lines.

(Sec. 202) Replaces provisions regarding the revision of the National Contingency Plan with those requiring the President to complete the evaluation of facilities classified as awaiting a National Priority List (NPL) decision to determine the risk to public health or welfare or the environment posed by each facility as compared with other facilities. Directs the President, for FY 2000 through 2004, to add a maximum of 30 facilities to the NPL annually. Prohibits additions to the NPL without a request from the Governor of the State in which the affected facility is located.

(Sec. 203) Alters the criteria for the continuance of obligations for removal actions to provide that actions shall not continue after $5 million (currently, $2 million) has been obligated or three years (currently, 12 months) have elapsed from the date of initial response to a release or threatened release of hazardous substances.

(Sec. 204) Revises conditions for State financial and other assurances with respect to remedial actions to prohibit the Administrator from providing any funding for such actions unless the State enters into an agreement that provides assurances for State payment of ten percent of the costs of the action and operation and maintenance costs.

Title III: Fair Share Liability Allocations and Protections - Creates exceptions to liability for response costs at NPL-listed facilities for certain: (1) home owners or renters, small businesses, or small nonprofit organizations with respect to certain arrangements for, or transport of, municipal solid waste (MSW) or sewage sludge; (2) de minimis contributors; and (3) small businesses. Establishes limitations to liability for codisposal landfills (certain MSW or sewage sludge landfills that may have received hazardous waste and that contain predominately MSW or sewage sludge transported from outside the facility).

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 to be 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 regulations or 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 if the recyclable material contained polychlorinated biphenyls in excess of 50 parts per million.

(Sec. 302) Adds to the list of parties eligible for expedited final settlements certain persons, small businesses, or municipalities that demonstrate an inability or limited ability to pay response costs. Revises conditions of eligibility for such settlements for de minimis parties.

(Sec. 303) Requires the President to conduct an impartial fair share allocation of response costs at NPL facilities and to estimate the fair share of each potentially responsible party (PRP) using specified equitable factors. Includes within such allocations response costs at NPL facilities that were not addressed in a settlement or judgment approved by a Federal district court before, or no later than 180 days after, this Act's enactment. Authorizes a party to settle any liability to the United States for response costs for its allocated fair share. Allocates shares attributable to insolvent, defunct, or bankrupt parties, or unattributable shares, among responsible parties, except certain parties with limited liability described by this Act.

Sets forth provisions regarding orphan shares. Provides that a statutory orphan share constitutes an obligation of the Hazardous Substance Superfund (Superfund).

Stays all contribution and cost recovery actions against parties eligible for expedited final settlements and those eligible for settlements based on certain limitations on liability with respect to the arrangement of MSW and sewage sludge until the Administrator offers a settlement. Suspends any statute of limitations applicable to such actions during the period that a stay is in effect.

Bars the President from issuing orders with respect to abatement actions at a facility to any non-Federal party or commencing or maintaining any new or existing action to recover response costs if he fails to fund a statutory orphan share, reimburse a party as required, or include an orphan share estimate in any settlement when required to do so.

Declares that settlements under allocation provisions, those regarding expedited final settlements, and settlements for parties with limited liability with respect to the arrangement of MSW and sewage sludge shall provide complete protection from all claims for contribution or cost recovery for response costs addressed in the allocation. Authorizes a party to retain the right to seek cost recovery or contribution for costs outside the scope of an allocation except from certain parties with limited liability described by this Act or those who have settled. Makes persons who commence contribution actions against parties who are not liable or who have resolved liability liable to such persons for all reasonable costs of defending the action.

Provides that parties that settle liability under allocation provisions or provisions regarding expedited final settlements or limited liability with respect to the arrangement of MSW or sewage sludge waive rights to seek cost recovery or contribution.

Authorizes the President, as a condition of a settlement under allocation provisions or those regarding limited liability for the arrangement of MSW or sewage sludge, to require parties to conduct a response action. Requires the President to reimburse such parties for costs incurred in excess of a party's allocated fair share.

Bars a court from approving any settlement under this Act unless it includes an estimate of the statutory orphan share that is fair, reasonable, and consistent.

Title IV: Funding - Revises provisions regarding uses of Superfund. Authorizes appropriations from Superfund for the five-year period beginning on this Act's enactment date.

Requires the President to use amounts appropriated out of Superfund only to: (1) enter into mixed funding agreements; (2) reimburse a party for response costs incurred in excess of the allocated share as described in a final settlement; and (3) perform response actions to the extent that the total amount in Superfund exceeds specified amounts in each of FY 2000 through 2004.

Prohibits claims against Superfund from being valid or paid in excess of the total amount in Superfund at any one time. Bars the President from issuing an order or seeking to recover costs for a response action if the amount in Superfund is insufficient to enable the President to enter into an agreement or reimburse a party at a facility. Authorizes appropriations to make payments if sufficient funds are unavailable to satisfy claims or enter into agreements.

Authorizes appropriations to EPA out of the general Treasury fund or Superfund for conducting removal and response actions.

Authorizes appropriations for: (1) the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry for health assessments and consultations and related activities; (2) hazardous substance research, demonstration, and training; (3) brownfields grant programs; (4) qualifying State response programs; and (5) the Department of Justice for enforcement.