Superfund refers to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or “CERCLA,” which was passed into law in December of 1980. The statute provides the federal government broad authority to cleanup uncontrolled, or abandoned, sites where "hazardous substances" are present and pose an imminent threat to human health or the environment. Superfund identifies four categories of "potentially responsible parties" (PRPs) that can be held to strict joint and several liability for the costs of responding to the release (or threatened release) of hazardous substances. Strict liability is absolute: It is imposed without regard to intent or negligence. Joint and several liability means that each and every PRP can be held individually liable for the entire cost of the cleanup. Following are the four categories of PRPs:
- The current owner or operator of the site;
- Any person who owned or operated the site at the time of disposal or release of hazardous substances;
- Any person (generator) who arranged for disposal, treatment, or transportation for disposal or treatment, of hazardous substances; and
- Any person who transported hazardous substances for disposal or treatment at a site selected by the transporter.