If I Own Contaminated Property, Does the Recent United States Supreme Court Opinion in United States v. Atlantic Research Corp. Matter to Me?

June 22, 2007
Jill Hyman Kaplan
NJPA Real Estate Journal

Yes. In United States v. Atlantic Research Corp., the Supreme Court clarified that a person (such as a current property owner) who voluntarily remediates property contaminated with hazardous substances may seek to recover his or her cleanup costs from other potentially responsible parties (PRPs) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601 et seq., even if the remediation is not compelled by governmental action. Until this decision was issued, substantial uncertainty existed as to whether such claims could be brought. Indeed, in PA, NJ and DE, such claims appeared to be foreclosed because of a Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision.

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