In case you needed a reminder of the dangers of selling contaminated property, a Des Moines federal judge recently ordered two tire companies (both subsidiaries of a larger company) to pay nearly $11 million in fines to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for selling contaminated property in order to avoid the costs of an environmental cleanup.
The Justice Department first filed the order on behalf of the EPA in 2010 stemming from the company’s failure to clean up polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other hazardous substances prior to selling the property. The fine is comprised of $5.45 million to reimburse costs incurred by the U.S. government in cleaning up the site. The other $5.45 million is for punitive damages. disposing of hazardous substances.
The site’s history of environmental problems didn’t begin in 2010, however. In 1976, a cancer-linked chemical called trichloroethylene, or TCE, was found in the site’s groundwater. The EPA declared it a Superfund site in 1983 after finding PCBs and other hazardous materials. When a larger company acquired the site in 1993, some of the contaminated building materials (soil-contaminating PCB insulation) were sold to the new company.
Government officials have said that the contamination is currently restricted to the site itself and it does not pose a danger to public health. That said, development springing up in surrounding areas has made the site a desirable location for future development. Before it can be sold and redeveloped, the EPA and the tire company must resolve their lawsuit and the EPA would have to issue a record of decision dictating how the property can be managed and used. The current record of decision is for industrial use.
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Environmental Remediation and Investigation from T-Environmental
Long story short? Selling contaminated property can come back to bite you. T-Environmental specializes in providing cost-effective environmental compliance. We help companies from numerous industries limit environmental liability, meet current applicable federal, state and local stormwater regulations, and reduce the risk of noncompliance and civil penalties.
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