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CERCLA's Overlooked Cleanup Program: Emergency Response and Removal


  • Robin R. Jenkins
  • Heather Klemick
  • Elizabeth Kopits
  • Alex L. Marten


Over the past five decades, the federal government has enacted laws and developed regulations to manage actual and threatened hazardous releases. This paper describes a relatively understudied component of the nation’s response capability – the Superfund Emergency Response and Removal (ERR) Program. Drawing on a new dataset of 121 recent removal actions on 88 sites in the Mid-Atlantic region, we find a great deal of diversity across sites, from the discovery and cause of contamination to the types of risks and the cleanup strategy. The program addresses traditionally studied media such as soil, water, and air contamination, as well as risks from not-yet-released contained contaminants and potential fire or explosion. One of the program’s major strengths is its ability to address this wide range of threats, even though this very heterogeneity complicates research efforts to assess its net benefits. We describe the involvement of potentially responsible parties and EPA expenditures on removal actions. Finally, we consider future challenges for research into the net benefits of the program. Original version May, 2011; Revised version July, 2011

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  • Robin R. Jenkins & Heather Klemick & Elizabeth Kopits & Alex L. Marten, 2011. "CERCLA's Overlooked Cleanup Program: Emergency Response and Removal," NCEE Working Paper Series 201104, National Center for Environmental Economics, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, revised May 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:nev:wpaper:wp201104

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    File Function: First version, 2011
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kent Messer & William Schulze & Katherine Hackett & Trudy Cameron & Gary McClelland, 2006. "Can Stigma Explain Large Property Value Losses? The Psychology and Economics of Superfund," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 33(3), pages 299-324, March.
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    More about this item


    hazardous waste sites; land revitalization; Superfund emergency response and removal;

    JEL classification:

    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • Q24 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Land
    • Q53 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Air Pollution; Water Pollution; Noise; Hazardous Waste; Solid Waste; Recycling

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