The Superfund Amendment And Reauthorization Act Of 1986

By Tabitha Mishra
Last updated: November 1, 2023

What Does The Superfund Amendment And Reauthorization Act Of 1986 Mean?

The Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 is an act that governs the cleanup of hazardous waste sites and response procedures in the event of an uncontrolled release of hazardous substances.

It is an extension of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, also known as the Superfund. SARA was enacted in the aftermath of the Bhopal Disaster in India and the toxic leak at the Institute in West Virginia.

Safeopedia Explains The Superfund Amendment And Reauthorization Act Of 1986

The Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986 was passed on October 17, 1986, to amend the CERCLA, or Superfund, which was passed in 1980 to solve the problem of hazardous waste sites.

SARA provides the necessary resources to clean up hazardous waste and lays down emergency plans to follow in the event a hazardous substance is released. The third part of SARA, Title III, is the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, which makes about 300 extremely hazardous substances subject to routine and detailed reporting to designated agencies of the local, state, and federal government.

SARA also:

  • Increased the Superfund trust by $8.5 billion
  • Reinforce the importance of community involvement and cooperation with authorities
  • Create permanent hazardous waste cleanup solutions
  • Mandate EPA risk assessments at sites named in the Superfund's National Priority List (NPL)

The Motivation Behind SARA

In addition to a shortage of funding for the Superfund, the implementation of SARA was also motivated by the disastrous event in 1984 in the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India. A gas leak at the US-owned pesticide plant exposed around 550,000 people to about 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas. SARA passed two years later in an effort to prevent similar incidents by imposing taxes on the chemical and petroleum industries and authorizing the federal government to respond directly in the event of a chemical release that could be harmful to people or the natural environment.


Title III, the EPCRA, was enacted in 1986 as national legislation on community safety. It aims to assist communities in protecting public health and safety and the environment from chemical hazards. The purpose is to create a relationship between the government, businesses and the community to plan, prepare and manage an emergency in case of a hazardous event.

Title III requires each state governor to designate a State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) who must designate Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) in each state district. Both are required to create emergency response plans for hazardous substance releases.

Title III also sets out requirements for manufacturers and facilities that store and distribute certain hazardous chemicals. They are required to report annually to the state and local governments including reporting any accidental releases, in order to aid local emergency planning and preparedness activities.

The act requires states to:

  • Develop an emergency preparedness program to respond to chemical releases
  • Receive reports from the regulated community
  • Share the resulting information on hazardous chemicals with the public and the local government

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