Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA)

In 1980, Congress passed the Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, known as CERCLA. The bill’s purpose was to fund cleanups and emergency response actions for some of the worst inactive or abandoned hazardous waste sites scattered across the country. A billion dollar revolving trust fund—financed primarily by a tax on certain chemical and petroleum products—was created to pay for Federal and State response actions when hazardous substances pose an existing or potential threat to human health or the environment.

In 1986, this bill was revised and expanded in the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA). The third part of SARA, Title III, is known as the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. This portion of the legislation makes more than 300 “extremely hazardous substances” subject to routine and detailed reporting to designated local, State, and Federal government agencies. It also requires local planning committees to use this information (and other data on local hazards) to create effective plans for hazardous materials emergencies.