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As many Americans can attest, the nation is grounds to many beautiful locations. For those lucky enough to live near or on the water, there are many benefits to be experienced. However, some individuals in New Jersey and elsewhere are faced with problems related to the environmental laws and regulations concerning the water source they live by. In these matter, it is possible to navigate these matters, ensuring one’s rights remain intact. Furthermore, when personal harm or property damage is caused by environmental events, a homeowner has the right to recover damages for these harms.

Take for example hazardous waste exposure. This is not only damaging to a water source and the enjoyment of it, but it could also cause great harm to anyone that comes in contact with it. Four decades ago, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or CERLA, was passed by Congress. The purpose of this Act was to establish a how uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites, spills, accidents and other incidents are handled. Furthermore, the Act created a mechanism to clean up, contain or remove hazardous materials in these situations.

Through this Act, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, has the authority to track down the party responsible for abandonment, accident, spill or other cause for the release of the hazardous waste. The EPA then has the power to require the responsible party to participate in the cleanup efforts. Even in matters where the responsible party cannot be located or they refuse to participate, the EPA is still charged with the authority to clean up the site, allowing for them to recover the costs from individuals and companies the were involved.

While the EPA, through this Act, is focused on the cleanup of hazardous waste, the damages suffered by a homeowner are likely unaddressed. Thus, individuals who have suffered harm to their property or health because of the hazardous waste incident on their property should understand that they have rights and options. Short and long-term relief could be recovered through a personal injury or property damage action. This not only holds the responsible party accountable for these losses but it also helps make the individual whole again, whether it is through relocation, environmental remediation or the payment of medical costs.