The federal Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is tasked with enforcing a number of laws which are designed to protect the environment and preserve natural resources and air quality.
As part of this responsibility, the EPA has a number of cleanup programs that it oversees. These programs give the EPA oversight over both public and private property, although the exact nature of the agency’s role depends on the law that applies to the situation.
The EPA has to identify when an environmental cleanup is needed under the law. It then makes sure that the cleanup meets federal standards at every stage.
It is worth pointing out that the State of California also has a robust environmental program in place, and its authorities may also order environmental cleanups under state laws.
The basic idea behind any cleanup program, state or federal, is that those responsible for polluting the environment or creating a pollution risk also have the responsibility to clean up the pollution and prevent further harm.
This is a responsibility that the party who created the issue must pay to resolve. That being said, some cleanups are expensive enough to cause a serious financial hardship to a business or even bankrupt it.
Environmental cleanups do not just affect large businesses
The EPA’s regulations and responsibilities do not just affect large business enterprises or businesses that San Diego residents may commonly think of as polluters, such as factories or chemical plants.
In fact, many small and mid-sized gasoline stations have to be well aware of the EPA’s standards. This is because they use what the EPA defines as Underground Storage Tanks, or USTs, to hold the gasoline they are selling to customers.
If these USTs leak, then the EPA may require a cleanup since the leak has the potential to pollute the soil and the groundwater.
Dealing with an environmental law issue like a UST cleanup is a complicated and potentially very costly process. It will involve working both with regulators and with insurance companies who may be responsible to pay for all or some of the cleanup.
It is important for a business facing this prospect to be aware of their legal options.