Brownfields Redevelopment Program

Liability Information

Before taking ownership of any property, it is highly recommended that a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment be performed to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) standard. This can provide some liability protection and makes some sites eligible for EPA brownfield cleanup grants.

The Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act (Pub .L.No. 107-118, 115 stat. 2356, "the Brownfields Law") was signed into law by President George W. Bush on January 11, 2002. Brownfields are defined as, "A former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination." The Brownfields Law amended the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) by providing funds to assess and clean up brownfields, clarifying CERCLA liability protections, and providing funds to enhance state and tribal response programs. Other related laws and regulations impact brownfields cleanup and reuse through financial incentives and regulatory requirements.

Liability protection for bona fide prospective purchasers of qualified properties is provided for. A "bona fide prospective purchaser" is an entity that:

  • Did not cause the contamination
  • Has conducted an “all appropriate inquiry” assessment of environmental issues at the site
  • Takes care to prevent the environmental problem from becoming worse
  • Takes appropriate steps to prevent or eliminate exposure to previously released hazardous substances
  • Is willing to provide access to the property for cleanup purposes
  • Does not disrupt any instructional controls or violate land-use restrictions designed to manage the contamination
  • Has no affiliation with the party responsible for the contamination

For more information visit the EPA Brownfield Liability Site