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Bill Filed to Make Site-Specific, Risk-Based Clean-Up Standards Universally Available in Cleaning Up Contaminated Sites in North Carolina

A bill (North Carolina House Bill 45) was filed on February 7th, and referred to the House Environment committee the next day. The purpose House Bill 45 is to make site-specific, risk-based clean up standards universally available in cleaning up contaminated industrial sites, provided certain criteria are met. The idea of having universal, risk-based clean up standards is not new; it’s a subject that has been debated for some time. However, we believe the situation is different now, and that there is a very good chance that some bill for making site-specific, risk-based cleanup standards universally available in North Carolina will become law during this session of the General Assembly.

Under current law, site-specific, risk-based clean-up standards are available under some State environmental programs, such as the leaking underground tank program, but not available for other contaminated sites. The result is inconsistencies in what clean-up standards apply at different sites. For instance, under current law, risk-based standards apply to a petroleum leak from an underground tank, but they don’t apply to a petroleum leak from an above-ground tank. Under the bill in its current form, risk-based standards would not be available on any site where the contamination has migrated off-site. Fees would apply to any responsible party seeking application of site-specific, risk-based standards for a site, based upon the acreage of contamination.

Anyone who is a potentially responsible party for a contaminated site in North Carolina for which such standards are not currently available should monitor the progress of this bill. 

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About this Author

Keith H. Johnson, Environmental Attorney, Poyner Spruill Law Firm
Partner

Keith’s practice focuses on environmental and municipal law, and commercial litigation.

He has guided clients through virtually every state program designed to address contaminated property, including Brownfields agreements, the Dry-Cleaning Solvent program, petroleum underground storage tanks and reimbursements, and voluntary cleanups under the state’s Inactive Hazardous Sites law.

He represents both local governments and private parties in disputes over a variety of land use matters, including Superfund liability and...

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