And they say it couldnt happen here. Due diligence – part one.

16 Jul 2013

Often, we hear clients say, “Well, sure contamination is a risk with property used in the 1940’s or even the 1960’s but it isn’t happening today.”  I think of A Civil Action which talks about tannery wastes dating back to the early 1800’s.   The movie, Erin Brockovitch dealt with contamination caused in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Due diligence isn’t as important on a property of recent vintage, right?

A recent story from San Francisco and stories from Delaware and from North Carolina indicate that just isn’t so.  As you can see, homeowners and employees are still learning about exposures to a known carcinogen which was used as an industrial degreaser and solvent for years.

The lesson that the business community should take away from this is – environmental due diligence is not a do-it-yourself proposition.  Any businessperson looking to buy or lease any property should ask their attorney to:

1. help hire the environmental consultant to be sure she is getting what she needs; and

2. read the environmental reports and discuss them with the consultant to be sure that she got what she needed.

Any proper environmental phase I is going to look not only at the past use of the property in question but also the current and past use of the surrounding area.  In the coming weeks, we will summarize how this process works; what is and is not included in it and how best to maximize its use.

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