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EPA Issues Guidance About Landowners Whose Property May Be Contaminated by a Neighbor's Actions

Release Date: 01/23/2004
Contact Information:


Suzanne Ackerman 202-564-7819 / ackerman.suzanne@epa.gov


(01/23/04) EPA has issued a new policy that provides guidance on liability protection under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) for landowners who own property that is or may be contaminated by a neighbor’s actions. This interim guidance discusses a new section added to the Statute by the Brownfields Amendment of 2002, Section 107(q), that is directed at contiguous property owners: landowners who own property that is or may be contaminated by hazardous substances but is not the original source of the contamination. To meet the contiguous property owner liability protection requirement, a landowner must meet statutory criteria that include but are not limited to: demonstrating that he did not cause, contribute, or consent to the release of hazardous substances; is not affiliated with a liable party in any way (familial, financial, contractual); and has taken reasonable steps to stop any continuing release, and prevent or limit human and environmental exposure to the hazardous substances. EPA’s interim guidance also addresses three other issues: (1) the application of section 107(q) to current and former owners of property; (2) the relationship between new section 107(q) and EPA’ Residential Homeowner Policy and Contaminated Aquifers Policy; and (3) the mechanisms EPA may provide, in its discretion, to resolve the liability concerns of contiguous property owners. The policy is available on EPA’s website at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/policies/ .