Legal Question in Environmental Law in Florida

Liability of UST(petroleum) leak on adjacent property

I am in contract to buy a commercial property. I have been informed by the real estate agent that the adjacent property once had a underground storage tank (UST) that leaked(it has been removed). It is likely, I am told by an environmental engineer involved in the monitoring of the UST property, that the ''plume of contamination'' includes part of the land I am buying. Would I be liable for cleanup of my property if contaminated by the neighboring UST leak or would they be responsible?

Asked on 9/03/01, 9:50 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Cohen Joel M. Cohen,P.A.

Re: Liability of UST(petroleum) leak on adjacent property

It is my understanding that the liability for cleanup flows to the owner of the land. Mrs. Gibson, an attorney in my firm would be the right person to discuss this with. She has experience as an env atty. JMC

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Answered on 10/05/01, 9:14 pm
Stephen Verbit Stephen R. Verbit, P.A.

Re: Liability of UST(petroleum) leak on adjacent property

If there is environmental contamination on your property, then you have potential liability to government agencies to investigate, assess, and remediate or clean up the contamination. You may have the legal right to seek compensation from the persons who actually caused the contamination, but you would still be required to foot the bill for the cleanup, as far as the government is concerned. Before you purchase potentially contaminated property, you should determine the nature and extent of the potential contamination. The financial impact of owning contaminated land can be huge. It may not be too late to get out of the deal, if there is contamination. You need to act quickly to preserve your legal rights.

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Answered on 10/07/01, 12:27 pm

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