The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

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The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980 has proved to be one of the most important environmental protection programs of all time. Also known as Superfund, this act spawned dramatic changes to the environment of the United States. Superfund aimed to cleanup hazardous waste sites in America and protect the health and safety of the general public. Over the years, the Superfund legislation has authorized the government to aid in the cleanup of toxic waste in a variety of effective ways that have ensured the welfare of its citizens. On the whole, CERCLA has transformed hazardous waste sites, changed the outdated disposal methods that companies utilized, and ignited environmental awareness.
While Superfund has been improving the condition of the environment since its inception, it was not always like that. Before CERCLA, remote dumps were the solution to the increasing industrial waste problem that was prevalent during the twentieth century. After the Industrial Revolution occurred, companies, looking to save money, began dumping industrial waste into the extra acres of their land or even sent their waste to normal dumps that were not equipped to handle chemical waste.1 As time went by, more and more companies thought it to be acceptable to continue this practice and added to the growing problem of improperly discarded waste. As a result of this inappropriate hazardous waste dumping, it was only a matter of time before the effects of hazardous waste exposure in humans began to be seen in the general public. This exposure began to occur by a variety of means.
Perhaps one of the most famous and tragic incidents pertaining to humans being affected by hazardous waste, is the Love Canal Di...

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...ell. Simply put, Superfund brought about the transformation of many of the most hazardous waste sites, the change of outdated ways of dealing with toxic waste, and acted as the trigger for a sea change in environmental awareness. In addition, Superfund really shed light upon the horrific ways that we were treating the environment by allowing companies too much freedom to hap hazardously dispose of the most dangerous chemicals. While the disasters that led to Superfund were tragic, they proved that we had to alter our ways or face the consequences. If not for Superfund, we would not have known how to address growing environmental issues, which would have led to disasters that dwarf the early ones addressed by the law. Superfund has shown, beyond doubt, that it is one of the most invaluable and effective environmental programs ever to be enacted in the United States.

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