Posted: March 23rd, 2023
In 1947, long before garbage pickup was available in this rural area, a farmer began burying his non-burnable garbage in a low spot on his land. Over the years, containers with the remnants of oven cleaner, insecticide, paint thinner, nail polish remover, anti-freeze, and other hazardous wastes were thrown in the pile. In 1965, the farmer placed soil over the heap, which at this point was quite smelly, planted grass and forgot about it. About 20 years after that, the land was sold to a very wealthy homeowner who knew nothing of the garbage pit, and who constructed a multimillion-dollar home on the now-estate. As years passed, rain deteriorated the buried containers and the chemicals gradually seeped into the ground. Eventually they made their way to the water table. In 2009, local landowners learned their land wells were contaminated and were able to trace the source to the farm-now-estate. Should the neighbors be allowed to sue? Sue whom? The original farmer has long been dead and the current owner was unaware of the dump site. Should he be required to pay just because he’s financially able to afford it? If not the current landowner, can they use a federal remedy? Is this a federal problem, or should the state have to address this?
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