Appendix 9 Use of Federal Superfund Liens to Secure Response Costs

AuthorAllison Rumsey/Michael Daneker
Page 327
May 28, 2002
SUBJECT: Use of Federal Superfund Liens to Secure Response Costs
FROM: Barry Breen, Director /s/
Office of Site Remediation Enforcement
TO: Directors, Waste Management Divisions, Regions I-X
Regional Counsel, Regions I-X
1. Purpose
The purpose of this memorandum is to encourage the use of liens in appropriate Superfund
enforcement cases pursuant to CERCLA Section 107(l). The use of liens to enhance Superfund cost
recovery efforts can be an efficient enforcement tool, especially in cases where settlement
discussions to date have not been productive. As described below, filing notice of a lien (i.e.,
“perfecting” a lien) can be a straight-forward legal matter and may provide an avenue to secure
otherwise unattainable funds. This memorandum re-emphasizes the principles stated in two prior
guidance documents: the 1987 “Guidance on Federal Superfund Liens” and the 1993 “Supplemental
Guidance on Federal Superfund Liens.” See attached guidance documents.
2. Importance of Superfund Liens/Regional Experiences
Regional staff should seriously consider and analyze the use of liens at every site in order to
protect the government's financial interest where reimbursement of costs incurred during cleanup
may otherwise be difficult or impossible, and balance the prospect of more certain recovery for the
government with the resources necessary to perfect the lien.
Regions 3 and 10 have centralized the process for filing notice of liens, with very positive
results, by designating a single person to facilitate and encourage lien filing. Both regions have
reached a number of favorable settlements that probably would not have occurred without liens.
Region 5 brought the Agency’s first Section 107(l)(4) in rem action in district court to force the sale
of a piece of property for recovery of cleanup costs. In rem actions are now used more frequently

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