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Hazardous Substance Liability Lawyers

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What Are Some Common Hazardous Substances?

The list of chemicals that are considered hazardous is lengthy. You should check your local or federal hazardous waste agencies for a complete list. Some hazardous waste includes:

·      Arsenic

·      Lead

·      Mercury

·      Benzene

·      Vinyl Chloride

Are There Federal Laws to Clean Up Contaminated Land?

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), commonly known as "Superfund," requires the following persons or businesses to pay for the cleanup of hazardous substances:

·      Current owner and/or occupant of the land, regardless if they were the ones who contaminated the land

·      Owner or occupants of the land at the time the chemicals were improperly disposed of

·      Anyone who arranged for the improper disposal or caused the spill of chemicals

·      Anyone who brought the chemicals to the land to be disposed

How Are Cleanup Costs Determined?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will examine the site and estimate the cost of cleanup. Because time is of the essence, the EPA will often clean the land and then sue the landowner for the cleanup costs.  

What If My Neighbor Polluted My Land?

You may go ahead and cleanup your land, and then using CERCLA, sue the owner of the polluting land to recover your cleanup costs. You should consult an attorney before cleaning up your land.

Are There Any Defenses to Avoid Paying Cleanup Costs?

The general public wants contaminated land and water immediately cleaned. However, in limited circumstances, CERCLA will prevent an innocent landowner or innocent buyer from paying cleanup costs. To use this defense, the innocent party must meet many criteria including having:

·      Acquired the land after the improper disposal occurred

·      Conducted a thorough pre-purchase investigation into the previous use of the land and found no problems

·      Had no reason to know about any contamination

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Hazardous Substance Problem?

If you or your business has been sued for environmental cleanup costs, an experienced property lawyer can work with the regulatory agency to reduce or eliminate your liability. If your land was polluted by a neighbor, a property attorney can inform you of your rights and remedies.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-16-2015 09:30 PM PST

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