Superfund Landowner Liability Protections
Historically, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, commonly known as Superfund), the owner or operator of a contaminated property could be held responsible for the property's cleanup, based solely on their current ownership of the property. As a result, parties that wanted to purchase contaminated properties were often concerned about incurring Superfund liability once they acquired the property. In 2002, Congress amended CERCLA to address this potential liability concern and to promote the cleanup, reuse, and redevelopment of contaminated, potentially contaminated, and formerly contaminated properties. The 2002 amendments to CERCLA added new landowner liability protections and clarified the existing innocent landowner protection.
The Superfund liability protections created by Congress are for parties who qualify as bona fide prospective purchasers (BFPPs), contiguous property owners (CPOs), or innocent landowners (ILOs or third parties).
CERCLA’s landowner liability protections are self-implementing, which means the landowner does not need EPA (or a court) to confer the protections provided under the statute. Instead, all a landowner must do to be protected is comply with the requirements of the statute. Since the 2002 amendments to CERCLA, the EPA has developed policy and guidance documents, model enforcement documents, responses to frequently asked questions, fact sheets, and other documents to clarify the landowner liability protections and support revitalization of contaminated land.
For detailed information on each of the landowner liability protections visit these webpages:
- Bona Fide Prospective Purchasers (BFPPs)
- Contiguous Property Owners (CPOs)
- Third Party Defenses/Innocent Landowners
- Residential Property Owners and Lenders
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