Copyright (c) 2002 Fordham Environmental Law Journal
Fordham Environmental Law Journal
ARTICLE: ENVIRONMENTAL CONTAMINATION WITH MULTIPLE POTENTIAL SOURCES AND THE COMMON LAW: CURRENT APPROACHES AND EMERGING OPPORTUNITIES
14 Fordham Envtl. Law J. 147
Anna M. Michalak*
The recognition of the risks associated with environmental contamination started increasing dramatically in the 1960s, and have continued to increase since then. 1 Partly as a result of this shift, litigation associated with environmental contamination has become common. 2 Because "technological development entails the manufacture and dispersal into the environment of increasing numbers of new chemicals and other products in ever increasing amounts," 3 this trend is likely to continue.
Although the source of the contaminant is known in some instances, there are, in other cases, several possible and plausible sources for the observed harm. Such cases are the focus of this paper. Typical examples of contamination with multiple potential sources are groundwater contamination in industrial areas 4 and atmospheric contamination over large spatial extents. 5 As the number and amount of chemicals being released into the environment continues to increase while at the same time the minimum detectable concentrations of these components continues to decrease, 6 contaminants can be tracked over larger areas. Therefore, the number of cases for which there is some question as to the source of contamination will continue to rise.
Environmental contamination issues have mainly been put under the jurisdiction of governmental departments and agencies. 7 These organizations have developed a statutory law basis for dealing with contamination from multiple potential sources. In some cases, statutory law defines a priori who is responsible for contamination. 8 In others, all potential sources are dealt with in a uniform manner, without regard to the ...
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