The Environmental Paradox: Hiring a Substandard Environmental Firm Could Compound Your Liability
1980s – Health hazards and strict environmental laws create the need for an environmental assessment service designed to minimize liability for contamination problems.
1990s – Thousands of environmental service firms evolve.
Late 1990s – The FDEP petroleum cleanup program crashes, and a primary source of work for the environmental firms is no longer available as it once was. Environmental firms focus on the other available primary source of work: transaction environmental assessments. Market conditions and competition drive prices of services down significantly, resulting in a damaging reduction of diligence, professionalism, and quality of environmental assessment services.
Current Concern – Low-budget and poor quality service providers could miss contamination evidence and, due to low profit margins, go out of business. The out-of-business firms would not be available to defend their work, and their client is liable for a contamination problem.
Environmental PARADOX – The service designed to protect against contamination liability, if not performed professionally by a financially stable firm, could cause contamination liability for a property owner.
CAUTION: Cursory environmental assessments can be performed at very affordable prices, but such services generally do not meet the level of diligence needed to achieve the purpose of the investigation: to minimize liability risks and obtain an “Innocent Landowner Defense” per 42 USC 9601 (35) (B).