Finding Potentially Responsible Parties
Early in the cleanup process, EPA conducts a search to find all of the potentially responsible parties (PRPs).
EPA's "PRP Search Manual" (2009) provides guidance on how to search for PRPs that may be liable for cleanup at a Superfund site. The manual, divided into four chapters, 13 appendices, and one addendum (2011), gives the user historical background on Superfund and its enforcement program and describes the planning stages, baseline tasks and followup tasks for conducting effective PRP searches.
EPA looks for evidence to determine liability by matching wastes found at the site with parties that may have contributed wastes to the site. EPA uses many approaches to do this research, including:
- Reviewing documents,
- Site investigation,
- Using "information request letters" to gather information,
- Title searches, and
- Internet research, libraries, courthouses, and state offices.
In addition to identifying PRPs, EPA tries to determine early on:
- The nature of a party's involvement (e.g., owner, generator),
- A party's potential defenses (e.g., 3rd party defense),
- Any applicable exemptions or exclusions,
- The amount of waste a party contributed, and
- Whether the party can pay only very little or nothing at all toward the cleanup.
Guidance on EPA's information gathering authorities is available in the "Guidance on Use and Enforcement of CERCLA Information Requests and Administrative Subpoenas" (PDF) (51 pp, 2MB, About PDF) (8/25/88).
Superfund Enforcement Topics
PRP Search Manual
- Download the complete print edition of the 2009 PRP Search Manual (PDF) (including 2011 addendum) (451 pp, 15.96MB)