If a company had a chemical spill on my rental property, how can I assure the tenants or myself of our safety or health?

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If a company had a chemical spill on my rental property, how can I assure the tenants or myself of our safety or health?

I contacted the company and a rep called and said they would clean up the residue on the fence and it would go into the ground and be neutralized. They said they would be concerned with ground water but city water would have no safety issues. They said a contractor was going to clean up the “pools” of chemicals in my neighbo’rs yard and on their property, but since the chemicals did not pool, my property was OK. I asked how he knew this and he stated. “This was his business”. My tenants and myself are concerned about health and safety issues. My tenants may move because of this.

Asked on October 13, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You need to have the area tested by either an independent company (one you trust) and/or by the state (e.g. department of environmental protection or health). You should be able to recover the cost of testing from the chemical company, since they caused to have to do it. You should speak with an attorney who practices environmental law, to decide how to best proceed (i.e. to contact government agencies to test or not; to first test yourself and then try to recover any costs, or to get an agreement from the company to pay for  your testing; etc.). You also need to consider your insurance policy and whether you are obligated to (or should, even if not obligated) let your insurer know of the spill and the fact that it could result in a claim or litigation--many policies require notice of any potential claims. Your attorney  can also advise you on this topic. The thing to NOT do is to simply take the company's assurances--they have a strong incentive to not find any problems or spend money on testing and remediation.


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