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Sycamore Indus. Park Assocs. v. Ericsson, Inc.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20262
Nos. No. 08-1118, (7th Cir., 10/20/2008) Aff'd

The Seventh Circuit affirmed a lower court decision dismissing a property owner's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lawsuit against the prior owner for the removal and disposal of an old heating system insulated with asbestos-containing material. Before it sold the facility, the prior owner installed a new natural gas heating system but left the old heating system in place. The prior owner's abandonment of the asbestos-laden insulation at the facility does not make it liable under CERCLA. A prior owner is a responsible party only if it controlled the site "at the time of disposal" of a hazardous substance. Here, there was no disposal. Nor is there any evidence that the prior owner transferred the property with the intent to dispose of a hazardous substance. Even if the prior owner was a responsible party, there was no emission into the outside environment. If there is no release or threatened release to the environment, there can be no liability under CERCLA. Similarly, by leaving the asbestos-insulated equipment in place and then selling the property, the prior owner did not handle, store, treat, transport, or dispose of the asbestos as required for RCRA liability.

[A prior decision can be found at 37 ELR 20104.]