Neighbors fuel oil leaked and contaminated my property

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Latest post 12-11-2009 6:22 PM by EnviroLawNJ. 3 replies.
  • 12-10-2009 11:37 PM

    Neighbors fuel oil leaked and contaminated my property

    My neighbors abandoned underground oil tank has been leaking for years and has contaminated the soil underneath my home, deck, garage and entire backyard.  The present neighbor uses natural gas and has never used fuel oil.  The clean up is going to be a 'big dig' vice a chemical clean-up due to the location of my home (New Jersey pinelands).  The insurance company from the prior owner of my home is wrangling with my neighbors insurance company who is going to pay for the clean up.  This has been going on for six (6) years.  How do I get this process moving faster?  Do I have a solid suit for damages? 

  • 12-11-2009 12:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Neighbors fuel oil leaked and contaminated my property

    Lloyd Lifer:
    This has been going on for six (6) years. How do I get this process moving faster?

    Unfortunately, there's no way to get this process moving faster unless you just want to pony up the full cost of decontaminating your property.

    Lloyd Lifer:
    Do I have a solid suit for damages?

    No. Not solid. Nebulous at best.

    Unless there is strict liability by statute, you would have an almost impossible time proving that anybody was negligent with regard to the tank leaking. And it takes negligence for somebody to be responsible for somebody else's damages.

     

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  • 12-11-2009 12:34 PM In reply to

    • Drew
      Consumer
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on 03-30-2000
    • PA
    • Posts 49,519

    Re: Neighbors fuel oil leaked and contaminated my property

    I think you want to contact a skilled environmental  law lawyer post haste--there is a definite possibility that you could be left holding the bag for a monumental clean up of you rprooperty due to a problem neighbor created --and the time clock to lock in neighbor to provide the cure has run out while you wait for dust to settle.

     

    The issues for environmental contamination are a whole another world --and you need the right pro to comment.  I'n not sure if one need to show any negligence at all.

     

    I have no clue if you can lock in neighbor for contamination his oil leaks caused on your lands--but I'd sure want a solid legal view post haste!



  • 12-11-2009 6:22 PM In reply to

    Re: Neighbors fuel oil leaked and contaminated my property

    This response should not be considered a legal opinion or advice.  New Jersey has tough laws that allow innocent parties to recover response costs (i.e. cleanup costs) from responsible parties based on strict liability. However, I cannot tell from your post whether you have incurred these types of damages or if someone else has, or if you have any damages at all.  Nevertheless, in these cases it is prudent to contact your own liability insurance company and report this situation.  Second, did the prior owner of your house have knowledge of this problem and not disclose it to you?  Third, what is the status of the cleanup?  Is DEP or a licensed site remediation professional (LSRP) involved in the cleanup?  With the new ARRCS rules, oversight of a situation like this will be greatly improved because the process has been privatized and LSRPs will need to keep the project moving in order to meet mandatory deadlines.  If you do not have damages related to the cleanup, you still have some control over the situation including granting access for the cleanup on the condition that it moves quicker and you are apprised of the situation.  There are other options as well.

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