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National Priorities List

For a list of NPL sites in Georgia click here.

The National Priorities List (NPL) is a list of hazardous waste sites to be cleaned up under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). This Act, also known as "Superfund", was designed to cover closed or abandoned waste sites that had no governing legislation. It establishes rules and regulations for these sites, determines liability, and establishes a fund to clean up these sites when no responsible party is found. CERCLA also requires the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide a list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States.

The identification of a site for the NPL is intended primarily to guide EPA in:

  • Determining which sites warrant further investigation to assess the nature and extent of the human health and environmental risks associated with a site;
  • Identifying what CERCLA-financed remedial actions may be appropriate;
  • Notifying the public of sites EPA believes warrant further investigation; and
  • Serving notice to potentially responsible parties that EPA may initiate CERCLA-financed remedial action.

There are three ways a site can be placed on the NPL:

  • A high rating from the EPA Hazard Ranking System, which is based on the potential for a health threat and severity of the health threat.
  • States or Territories designate one top-priority site regardless of score.
  • A site meets all three of these criteria:
    1. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has issued a health advisory that recommends removing people from the site.
    2. EPA determines the site poses a significant threat to public health.
    3. EPA anticipates it will be more cost-effective to use NPL authority rather than other methods of cleanup.