In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), informally called Superfund. The Superfund program was given the authority and funds to hold polluters responsible for cleaning up contaminated waste sites or clean up the sites themselves if no responsible party can be found or afford the cleanup. These toxic waste sites house some of the most “hazardous chemicals known to humankind.” The Superfund toxic waste program protects people from these contaminants and the serious health problems associated with them.

The program was originally funded by a tax on the chemical and petroleum industries, but that tax expired in 1995, and now the money for the Superfund program has come primarily through appropriations from the general revenue.

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Photo Credit: Kimberly Chandler/AP Photo