In response to environmental problems posed by past hazardous waste disposal practices, Congress directed the EPA to develop a program to manage and control past disposal sites. This program was outlined in the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980 and was amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986. CERCLA and SARA established a series of programs for the clean up of hazardous waste disposal and spill sites nationwide.
CERCLA also established the National Priorities List (NPL), which guides the EPA in determining which sites require further investigation. MCB Camp Pendleton was placed on the NPL on November 15, 1989.
SARA amended CERCLA on October 17, 1986, after the EPA had administered the Superfund program for six years. SARA made several important changes and additions to the program. It stressed the importance of permanent remedies and innovative treatment technologies in cleaning up hazardous waste sites and required Superfund actions to consider the standards and requirements found in other State and Federal environmental laws and regulations. In addition, it provided new enforcement authorities and settlement tools, and increased State involvement in every phase of the Superfund program.
SARA also increased the focus on human health problems posed by hazardous waste sites; encouraged greater citizen participation in making decisions on how sites should be cleaned up; and increased available funding for these purposes.
The DoD (Department of Defense) developed the IR Program in 1986 to identify, assess, characterize, and clean up or control contamination from past hazardous waste disposal operations and hazardous materials spills at United States Navy and Marine Corps installations. In addition, the IR Program is charged with making every effort to reduce the risk to human health and the environment.
The IR Program is the DoD's equivalent to the EPA Superfund program. To ensure consistency, IR Program cleanup actions reasonably interpret and apply EPA policy and guidance when making cleanup decisions. The program was established to meet federal requirements regarding the clean up of hazardous waste sites, outlined in CERCLA, as amended by SARA.