U.S. Code of Federal Regulations
Regulations most recently checked for updates: Sep 26, 2023
(a) This subpart establishes methods and criteria for determining the appropriate extent of response authorized by CERCLA and CWA section 311(c):
(1) When there is a release of a hazardous substance into the environment; or
(2) When there is a release into the environment of any pollutant or contaminant that may present an imminent and substantial danger to the public health or welfare of the United States.
(b) Limitations on response. Unless the lead agency determines that a release constitutes a public health or environmental emergency and no other person with the authority and capability to respond will do so in a timely manner, a removal or remedial action under section 104 of CERCLA shall not be undertaken in response to a release:
(1) Of a naturally occurring substance in its unaltered form, or altered solely through naturally occurring processes or phenomena, from a location where it is naturally found;
(2) From products that are part of the structure of, and result in exposure within, residential buildings or business or community structures; or
(3) Into public or private drinking water supplies due to deterioration of the system through ordinary use.
(c) Fund-financed action. In determining the need for and in planning or undertaking Fund-financed action, the lead agency shall, to the extent practicable:
(1) Engage in prompt response;
(2) Provide for state participation in response actions, as described in subpart F of this part;
(3) Conserve Fund monies by encouraging private party response;
(4) Be sensitive to local community concerns;
(5) Consider using treatment technologies;
(6) Involve the Regional Response Team (RRT) in both removal and remedial response actions at appropriate decision-making stages;
(7) Encourage the involvement and sharing of technology by industry and other experts; and
(8) Encourage the involvement of organizations to coordinate responsible party actions, foster site response, and provide technical advice to the public, federal and state governments, and industry.
(d) Entry and access. (1) For purposes of determining the need for response, or choosing or taking a response action, or otherwise enforcing the provisions of CERCLA, EPA, or the appropriate federal agency, and a state or political subdivision operating pursuant to a contract or cooperative agreement under CERCLA section 104(d)(1), has the authority to enter any vessel, facility, establishment or other place, property, or location described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section and conduct, complete, operate, and maintain any response actions authorized by CERCLA or these regulations.
(2)(i) Under the authorities described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, EPA, or the appropriate federal agency, and a state or political subdivision operating pursuant to a contract or cooperative agreement under CERCLA section 104(d)(1), may enter:
(A) Any vessel, facility, establishment, or other place or property where any hazardous substance or pollutant or contaminant may be or has been generated, stored, treated, disposed of, or transported from;
(B) Any vessel, facility, establishment, or other place or property from which, or to which, a hazardous substance or pollutant or contaminant has been, or may have been, released or where such release is or may be threatened;
(C) Any vessel, facility, establishment, or other place or property where entry is necessary to determine the need for response or the appropriate response or to effectuate a response action; or
(D) Any vessel, facility, establishment, or other place, property, or location adjacent to those vessels, facilities, establishments, places, or properties described in paragraphs (d)(2)(i)(A), (B), or (C) of this section.
(ii) Once a determination has been made that there is a reasonable basis to believe that there has been or may be a release, EPA, or the appropriate federal agency, and a state or political subdivision operating pursuant to a contract or cooperative agreement under CERCLA section 104(d)(1), is authorized to enter all vessels, facilities, establishments, places, properties, or locations specified in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section, at which the release is believed to be, and all other vessels, facilities, establishments, places, properties, or locations identified in paragraph (d)(2)(i) of this section that are related to the response or are necessary to enter in responding to that release.
(3) The lead agency may designate as its representative solely for the purpose of access, among others, one or more potentially responsible parties, including representatives, employees, agents, and contractors of such parties. EPA, or the appropriate federal agency, may exercise the authority contained in section 104(e) of CERCLA to obtain access for its designated representative. A potentially responsible party may only be designated as a representative of the lead agency where that potentially responsible party has agreed to conduct response activities pursuant to an administrative order or consent decree.
(4)(i) If consent is not granted under the authorities described in paragraph (d)(1) of this section, or if consent is conditioned in any manner, EPA, or the appropriate federal agency, may issue an order pursuant to section 104(e)(5) of CERCLA directing compliance with the request for access made under § 300.400(d)(1). EPA or the appropriate federal agency may ask the Attorney General to commence a civil action to compel compliance with either a request for access or an order directing compliance.
(ii) EPA reserves the right to proceed, where appropriate, under applicable authority other than CERCLA section 104(e).
(iii) The administrative order may direct compliance with a request to enter or inspect any vessel, facility, establishment, place, property, or location described in paragraph (d)(2) of this section.
(iv) Each order shall contain:
(A) A determination by EPA, or the appropriate federal agency, that it is reasonable to believe that there may be or has been a release or threat of a release of a hazardous substance or pollutant or contaminant and a statement of the facts upon which the determination is based;
(B) A description, in light of CERCLA response authorities, of the purpose and estimated scope and duration of the entry, including a description of the specific anticipated activities to be conducted pursuant to the order;
(C) A provision advising the person who failed to consent that an officer or employee of the agency that issued the order will be available to confer with respondent prior to effective date of the order; and
(D) A provision advising the person who failed to consent that a court may impose a penalty of up to $25,000 per day for unreasonable failure to comply with the order.
(v) Orders shall be served upon the person or responsible party who failed to consent prior to their effective date. Force shall not be used to compel compliance with an order.
(vi) Orders may not be issued for any criminal investigations.
(e) Permit requirements. (1) No federal, state, or local permits are required for on-site response actions conducted pursuant to CERCLA sections 104, 106, 120, 121, or 122. The term on-site means the areal extent of contamination and all suitable areas in very close proximity to the contamination necessary for implementation of the response action.
(2) Permits, if required, shall be obtained for all response activities conducted off-site.
(f) Health assessments. Health assessments shall be performed by ATSDR at facilities on or proposed to be listed on the NPL and may be performed at other releases or facilities in response to petitions made to ATSDR. Where available, these health assessments may be used by the lead agency to assist in determining whether response actions should be taken and/or to identify the need for additional studies to assist in the assessment of potential human health effects associated with releases or potential releases of hazardous substances.
(g) Identification of applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements. (1) The lead and support agencies shall identify requirements applicable to the release or remedial action contemplated based upon an objective determination of whether the requirement specifically addresses a hazardous substance, pollutant, contaminant, remedial action, location, or other circumstance found at a CERCLA site.
(2) If, based upon paragraph (g)(1) of this section, it is determined that a requirement is not applicable to a specific release, the requirement may still be relevant and appropriate to the circumstances of the release. In evaluating relevance and appropriateness, the factors in paragraphs (g)(2)(i) through (viii) of this section shall be examined, where pertinent, to determine whether a requirement addresses problems or situations sufficiently similar to the circumstances of the release or remedial action contemplated, and whether the requirement is well-suited to the site, and therefore is both relevant and appropriate. The pertinence of each of the following factors will depend, in part, on whether a requirement addresses a chemical, location, or action. The following comparisons shall be made, where pertinent, to determine relevance and appropriateness:
(i) The purpose of the requirement and the purpose of the CERCLA action;
(ii) The medium regulated or affected by the requirement and the medium contaminated or affected at the CERCLA site;
(iii) The substances regulated by the requirement and the substances found at the CERCLA site;
(iv) The actions or activities regulated by the requirement and the remedial action contemplated at the CERCLA site;
(v) Any variances, waivers, or exemptions of the requirement and their availability for the circumstances at the CERCLA site;
(vi) The type of place regulated and the type of place affected by the release or CERCLA action;
(vii) The type and size of structure or facility regulated and the type and size of structure or facility affected by the release or contemplated by the CERCLA action;
(viii) Any consideration of use or potential use of affected resources in the requirement and the use or potential use of the affected resource at the CERCLA site.
(3) In addition to applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements, the lead and support agencies may, as appropriate, identify other advisories, criteria, or guidance to be considered for a particular release. The “to be considered” (TBC) category consists of advisories, criteria, or guidance that were developed by EPA, other federal agencies, or states that may be useful in developing CERCLA remedies.
(4) Only those state standards that are promulgated, are identified by the state in a timely manner, and are more stringent than federal requirements may be applicable or relevant and appropriate. For purposes of identification and notification of promulgated state standards, the term promulgated means that the standards are of general applicability and are legally enforceable.
(5) The lead agency and support agency shall identify their specific requirements that are applicable or relevant and appropriate for a particular site. These agencies shall notify each other, in a timely manner as described in § 300.515(d), of the requirements they have determined to be applicable or relevant and appropriate. When identifying a requirement as an ARAR, the lead agency and support agency shall include a citation to the statute or regulation from which the requirement is derived.
(6) Notification of ARARs shall be according to procedures and timeframes specified in § 300.515 (d)(2) and (h)(2).
(h) Oversight. The lead agency may provide oversight for actions taken by potentially responsible parties to ensure that a response is conducted consistent with this part. The lead agency may also monitor the actions of third parties preauthorized under subpart H of this part. EPA will provide oversight when the response is pursuant to an EPA order or federal consent decree.
(i) Other. (1) This subpart does not establish any preconditions to enforcement action by either the federal or state governments to compel response actions by potentially responsible parties.
(2) While much of this subpart is oriented toward federally funded response actions, this subpart may be used as guidance concerning methods and criteria for response actions by other parties under other funding mechanisms. Except as provided in subpart H of this part, nothing in this part is intended to limit the rights of any person to seek recovery of response costs from responsible parties pursuant to CERCLA section 107.
(3) Activities by the federal and state governments in implementing this subpart are discretionary governmental functions. This subpart does not create in any private party a right to federal response or enforcement action. This subpart does not create any duty of the federal government to take any response action at any particular time.