Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act

Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)

Federal laws passed in 1980 and known commonly as the Superfund. The law imposes strict liability for cleaning up environmentally contaminated land—one's liability does not depend on any fault or responsibility,but simply on one's status as any of the following:

• Apast or current owner of a facility
• Apast or current operator of a facility (such as a tenant or property manager)
• Agenerator of hazardous substances
• Atransporter of hazardous substances

Because of potential cleanup liability for the actions of previous owners,it is essential that any purchaser of commercial property investigate a property history for evidence of manufacturing processes, petroleum-related businesses such as gas stations, dry-cleaning plants, transmission repair shops, and any number of other activities. In the alternative, one may order a Phase I Environmental Report from a licensed engineer. As a practical matter, most lenders will require the report as a condition of providing funds for purchase.

At one time, there was some confusion over a mortgage lender's potential exposure to liability by virtue of possibly being considered an “operator”when involved in management decisions during a loan workout. There was also great fear about lender liability after foreclosure, when the financial institution became an “owner.”This has largely been cleared up through CERCLA amendments providing limited lender immunity provided there is appropriate due diligence before credit extension. Due diligence is usually resolved through requiring a Phase I Environmental Report from a licensed engineer, and then a Phase II report if the Phase I report indicates any suspicious evidence. After foreclosure,the lender can avoid liability if it takes steps to sell the property as soon as possible.

When selling or buying property,it is important for the sales documents to include a provision allocating financial responsibility in the case cleanup is necessary in the future.Parties may not disclaim responsibility under CERCLA,but they may contractually agree regarding who will bear the ultimate cost of a cleanup.

For more information regarding this complex subject,visit the Superfund pages of the Environmental Protection Agency Web site at www.epa.gov/ebtpages/cleasuperfund
References in periodicals archive ?
He was responsible for administration of all industrial regulatory activities under the Clean Water Act; he directed numerous regulatory developments under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and served as the Carter Administration's spokesperson and coordinator in passage of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act ("Superfund").
Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA") the federal statute that governs the remediation of hazardous waste sites, liability for the full cost of cleanup can be imposed on any party who owns or operates a site.
Hazardous waste remediation (or cleanup) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) or similar state or local statutes often is a company's largest cost and the most difficult to estimate.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for a $110 million Remedial Action Contract (RAC) II to provide professional architect/engineer, technical, and management services to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support remedial response, enforcement oversight and non-time critical removal activities under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) and the Robert T.
A few years ago Congress passed legislation known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), which provides for substantial penalties and liability for cleanup of contaminated soil.
His work has concentrated on characterization and cleanup under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) sites, and restoration of plant communities on disturbed lands.
If the real estate community has learned anything during the course of the past 12 years, since the introduction of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), it has come to understand that pollution liability and environmental responsibility are now facts of life.
The suit also seeks costs, damages and declaratory relief against the Company under the Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 ("OPA") and the Solid Waste Disposal Act ("RCRA").

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