Environmental issues are everywhere. Hazards like heavy metals, oil, gasoline, chemicals in drinking water, and so much more can be found on properties all over the state of New Hampshire. These environmental hazards lead property owners to wonder who is responsible for the environmental clean-up. Many are shocked to learn they are the ones footing the bill.
Contaminants in Water
One of the biggest environmental hazards in New Hampshire is the levels of PFAS in the drinking water. The Department of Environmental Services implemented new, lower perfluoro-chemicals levels in drinking water. However, the new rules only apply to the public water systems, which will be tested regularly.
Recently, an agreement was reached with Saint-Gobain to provide approximately 1,000 properties with alternate water. These properties are located within the towns of Merrimack, Bedford, Litchfield, Hudson, and Londonberry.
Anyone who owns a well will want to test their water to see how it compares to the new standards. Wells can contain other harmful chemicals like arsenic and radon. Therefore, it is important for property owners to test for any harmful chemicals too. Wells can be treated to remove some of the harmful chemicals to make the water safe to drink.
Contamination on a Property
Ground pollution isn’t as common in residential areas as it is in commercial areas. However, there can be issues when homes are constructed over land that had unknown contamination in the past.
A property owner is responsible for investigating any contamination discovered in the soil, air, or water. They must report the contamination to DES, who in return will assist in determining the extent of the contamination. The DES can also make recommendations as to the best way to complete the clean-up.
As noted before, the property owner will be responsible for the cleanup of the environmental hazard. The only time the property owner will be able to recoup their money is when they can prove someone else caused the contamination. They then can take civil action against that person for cost recovery.
It can be difficult to prove the contamination was caused by a nearby company or landowner, or even a previous owner. The DES may be able to assist in determining that as well.
There are times when a large contamination might become eligible for environmental clean-up by the state or federal government. Most of the time, the affected property is labeled as a Brownfield, which could potentially limit how a property is used in the future.
When a property is listed as a Brownfield, and the contamination is quite severe, the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) may take control of the clean-up. The goal in those cases is to rehabilitate the property, so it can be used normally after the clean-up process.
As a property owner, you may not want to deal with the costs, and headaches, that come with cleaning up environmental hazards. There are multiple state and federal regulations that must be followed for the clean-up and the entire process can be mind-boggling. Going off-course (even unknowingly) can result in fines.
Our office can help you navigate all of the environmental regulations, so you can get through the clean-up process quickly. We may even be able to help if you need to go to court to take civil action against the person who caused the contamination. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.