It may have seemed like an exceptional investment at the time. However, if you recently purchased contaminated real estate, you may have some headaches in your future.
Real estate ownership carries certain responsibilities. However, each situation is different and you may need experienced advocates to help address your concerns.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection lists 16 pages of sites with confirmed, active contamination in Atlantic County alone. This is due in part to New Jersey’s history as an extremely productive industrial area prior to environmental controls. Knowing the former uses of a parcel of land can help you avoid unwittingly buying a polluted site.
Once the property is yours, you need to determine what kind of contamination exists. Spilled oil may pollute the groundwater around former factories. Certain fluorinated compounds known as PFAFs can seep into drinking water. Various volatile organic compounds may taint soil. Radioactivity can harm people and wildlife.
Laboratory testing may be necessary to confirm which toxins are present. Further analysis can help you determine the location and concentration.
As a property owner, you may be responsible for cleaning up the site. Cleanup may involve eliminating the toxin or bringing levels of the substance into an EPA-acceptable range. Fortunately, there are companies who specialize in toxic waste remediation. However, addressing the pollution may take a long time and come at a significant expense.
Previous owners may have failed to disclose the contamination before selling the property. In such cases, they may be responsible for at least part of the cleanup. Being an innocent purchaser can limit your liability: Treating pollution comes at a high cost, but you may not need to foot the whole bill.