Re: environmental contamination (long) - Posted by Ben (FL)
Posted by Ben (FL) on June 14, 2000 at 16:34:59:
I posted a reply to this yesterday, but got worked up and used foul language and the message got pulled. I am reposting the rated-G version.
I am in REI to get out of my J.O.B. which is environmental consulting, so I know a little about what you’re looking at.
A Phase I is a paper search to see if the potential for environmental impacts exists. Since the place was a tannery, the answer will be “Yes.” Go to a phase II. These usually don’t cost more than $2k but can go as high as $10k.
A Phase II involves drilling to collect subsurface soil and groundwater samples. The purpose is to target likely area and see if any contamination does, indeed, exist. Since, until the 1980s, the most common method of smelly, toxic waste disposal was to throw it out the back door, the answer will, again, probably be yes. This can cost from $10k to $50k, or more, depending on the number of samples required.
At this point, the state regulatory body will step in and require that someone (the owner) pay to see how much contamiantion there is, and how far it has spread. This involves additional investigations, and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
To get to the point were the amount and extent of contamination is know can take one or more years. If enough contamination is found at high enough levels, the state will require that someone pay to clean it up. If you buy the property without some sort of clause pinning responsibility for the contamiantion on the seller, you may get stuck with the bill. Cleaning up the mess can cost seven figures and take many years. All the while, the property is useless.
Now there are programs with many states that either pay all or part of clean up of past contamination. This site may also qualify for the Brownfields program. If, for example, large amounts of groundwater contamination were found under your warehouse, but little or no soil contamination was found, then, through the Brownfields program, the site could still be used as a warehouse, as long as no one withdrew any water, either for drinking or landscape.
Call your local state environmental regulators - The Michigan department of environmental protection, or Michigan EPA, or somehting like that, and ask them what your options are.