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Richmond Am. Homes of Colo., Inc. v. United States

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20060
Nos. No. 05-280C, (Fed. Cl., 02/22/2007)

The court held that the U.S. Air Force was liable to homebuilders who had cleaned up asbestos contamination at the former Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. The homebuilders didn't discover the asbestos until after they purchased the former base property. When the Air Force refused to clean up the asbestos, Colorado required each of the homebuilders to undertake the cleanup at a total cost of about $9 million. The homebuilders brought suit after the Air Force again refused to pay for any of the cleanup costs. The court found that the Air Force had caused the asbestos contamination by demolishing a number of asbestos-contaminated buildings prior to transferring the property, and held that the broad indemnity language of §330 of the National Defense Authorization Act required the Air Force to fully compensate the homebuilders for costs arising out of the contamination. This decision is the first ruling by any federal court addressing the government’s liability for environmental remediation costs associated with the transfer of military property under base closure laws.