I Found Environmental Issues on My Property, What Should I Do?

Discovering environmental issues on a property can be a daunting scenario for any property owner. Whether you’re dealing with contamination from previous industrial use, presence of hazardous materials like asbestos, or issues with soil stability, the implications can be significant not only for the value of your property but also for your legal responsibilities. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to handle the issue:

Step 1: Considering Conduct a Thorough Environmental Assessment

The first step upon suspecting or discovering environmental issues is to consider conducting a comprehensive environmental assessment. This typically involves hiring environmental consultants who perform an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). An ESA usually comes in two phases: Phase I involves reviewing historical records and conducting a visual inspection of the property to identify potential contamination risks; Phase II, if necessary, includes soil, water, and building materials testing to confirm the presence and extent of contamination.

Step 2: Understand Your Legal Obligations

Environmental laws can vary significantly by location, but property owners are generally required to manage and remediate environmental hazards found on their properties. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforces strict guidelines on how to handle various contaminants. For example, if your property is found to have toxic substances like lead or asbestos, you may be legally required to remove these materials safely or perform remediation activities to reduce their impact.

Step 3: Explore Remediation Options

Once the type and extent of contamination are determined, explore remediation options. Remediation can range from removing contaminated soil or groundwater to sealing off asbestos in buildings. The chosen method will depend on several factors, including the severity of contamination, the intended use of the property, and local regulations. Remediation can be costly, but ignoring the issue could lead to more severe health risks and legal consequences.

Step 4: Consult with a Real Estate Attorney

Handling environmental issues can involve complex legal proceedings and significant financial implications. It’s crucial to consult with a real estate attorney who specializes in environmental law. They can provide guidance on legal requirements for disclosure, help negotiate with regulatory bodies, and ensure that all necessary remediation actions are taken according to legal standards. An attorney can also assist in seeking financial aid or grants available for environmental cleanup.

Step 5: Implement Prevention Strategies

After addressing the immediate environmental issues, implementing long-term prevention strategies is key. This could involve regular inspections, installing barrier systems to prevent future contamination, or revising property usage to avoid potential environmental risks. Taking proactive steps can help minimize future liabilities and protect the property value.


Finding environmental issues on your property can be stressful, but with the right approach, it can be managed effectively. By conducting thorough assessments, understanding your legal responsibilities, exploring remediation options, and seeking expert advice, you can navigate the complexities of environmental cleanup. Remember, addressing these issues not only protects your health and investment but also contributes to the broader goal of environmental conservation.

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