regularly cause soil and groundwater
contamination at the subject property
itself as well as surrounding real estate.
Retail shopping centers or commercial
office buildings that have housed dry
cleaners, printers, or restaurants have
serious concerns pertaining to the improper storage and disposal of chemicals,
inks, dyes and grease/oils.
Poor maintenance, concrete cracks,
dilapidated roofing, clogged sewer pipes
and broken sprinkler systems can result
in water intrusion and mold growth.
Mold grows rapidly in warm and moist
under carpeting, inside walls and HVAC
ducts—and easily can spread throughout
a commercial, retail or residential structure, impacting others.
Weather-related events such as flash
flooding exacerbate indoor water and
mold issues, and cause excessive surface
water and silt runoff affecting neighboring properties or waterways such as
ponds, streams or rivers. Should a waterway become impacted, not only is the
quality of water at risk, it threatens plant
and animal life as well.
Vacant buildings and land are attractive locations to illegally dispose of hazardous waste, drums and containers—a
practice commonly called “midnight
dumping.” The drums and containers
are almost never appropriate to properly
contain the waste and the contents are
easily released onto the property.
Criminal activity at abandoned sites is
a major concern. Criminals establish illegal methamphetamine labs in abandoned
properties, with the remnants left behind
after they move on. These residual materials cause widespread contamination
to a facility and can cost thousands of
dollars to restore the property back to its
Often city officials are unsure who is
legally responsible for dealing with these
environmental hazards. If the property
owners can be tracked down, they may
be held liable. Banks taking over proper-
ties via foreclosure and local municipali-
ties are left with figuring out how to deal
with these issues. Some local organiza-
tions even attempt adverse possession
in hopes of improving their declining
Adjacent property owners or addi-
tional on-site tenants also are affected by
contamination stemming from a vacant
property. Mold growth easily spreads be-
tween units. Leaks, toxic fumes and mold
can devastate innocent landowners.
Generally, environmental issues are
excluded from most general liability or
property insurance policies, including
litigation defense costs. Therefore, property owners, cities and financial institutions that did not directly cause a problem may nevertheless have to defend
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