CERCLA Training: Does Your Company Need It?
You probably know CERCLA (the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) as the Superfund. It’s a law enacted at the federal level to clean up hazardous waste sites.
When the party responsible for creating a hazardous waste site can’t be found, the EPA can clean the sites themselves using funds from a special trust—the Superfund. But the law also authorizes the EPA to find out who is responsible for hazardous waste sites and force those responsible to clean them up when possible. So your company may need to know about CERCLA.
Who’s Liable for Cleanup of Superfund Sites?
There are four types of people, called “potential responsible parties,” that may be pinpointed as liable for damages at a Superfund site. These include:
The site’s current owner or operator. Whoever owns the site now—including companies—may be found responsible for providing the funds to clean up the site.
The site’s owner or operator at the time the contamination occurred. If the site has changed hands since hazardous waste was deposited there, it’s possible the EPA will expect whoever owned the land at the time of the contamination to take responsibility for cleaning it up.
The person responsible for overseeing disposal. Employees within a company may be found liable as well. The person in your company who arranged the disposal of a hazardous substance at a particular site may be named in a CERCLA suit, especially if the area chosen was public land.
The person responsible for transportation. The employee who transported the hazardous waste to the site may be named as responsible under CERCLA law in addition. That’s because that person may have chosen the site for disposal, and may have participated in or overseen the disposal as well.
Educate Your Employees—and Dispose of Hazardous Waste Safely.
If your company handles and disposes of hazardous waste, you can’t afford not to have employees who recognize the legal risks of a botched disposal—and who know how to dispose of hazardous materials safely. Here are a few courses all companies that deal with hazardous waste should offer its employees in order to stay on the right side of CERCLA regulations.
This class teaches students the history and finer points of CERCLA law. Students learn how hazardous waste sites are ranked, release reporting requirements, and the history of the law. You can also choose more in-depth CERCLA courses that give students a closer look at the processes governing the assessment and cleanup of Superfund sites.
The employees who handle and dispose of hazardous waste should know how to do it properly—for the protection of the environment as well as to shield their company and themselves from possible CERCLA liability. This class helps students understand and comply with Federal regulations regarding hazardous waste as well as how to manage, dispose of and transport hazardous waste safely. Students also learn how to initiate an appropriate emergency response when shipments go wrong, how to ensure facility compliance with regulations regarding hazardous waste, and comply with reporting requirements.
There are many different classes covering transportation of different types of hazardous waste. Depending on your company’s needs, it may be appropriate to educate your employees on shipping infectious substances, shipping with dry ice, or shipping radioactive substances, to name a few. These classes give students a thorough understanding of the safe loading, unloading and handling of dangerous materials, as well as marking and labeling requirements and Federal laws related to the transportation of these goods.
Your company needs CERCLA training for its employees and leaders if it handles, transports and disposes of hazardous waste. For the sake of public safety, your company must know how to deal with hazardous materials without polluting the environment. For the sake of employees who might be found liable in a CERCLA suit, you should make sure all employees who deal with hazardous waste have the training they need to accomplish it safely. With the proper training programs for employees and corporate leaders, your company can avoid the money, time and negative publicity of being found liable for the cleanup of a Superfund site.
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