Acknowledgement to Great American
A housing stock transfer was undertaken between a Local Authority and a private management company involving approximately 7,000 residential units. A problem emerged when unusually high levels of lead, arsenic and zinc were discovered on surrounding properties. When tests were conducted, it became apparent that the residential units had been built on land used as a chemical dump from the early 1900s to 1960s by a company still operating in the area. A class action was brought against the Local Authority by residents, alleging health risks and diminishing property values. Residents perceived to be at risk from the presence of contamination were relocated. Significant investigations were undertaken to assess the extent of the problem. A combination of remediation, compensation, and relocation of residents was eventually achieved and paid for by the original polluter. Although liability was not deemed to ultimately lie with the Local Authority, significant costs were incurred to demonstrate the absence of liability. The Local Authority was eventually able to recover the costs incurred through a claim against the responsible parties, including the previous landowner and the developer.