Summary: H.R.5927 — 101st Congress (1989-1990)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.5927. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (10/25/1990)

Superfund Liability Clarification Act - Amends the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 to exclude from liability as an "owner or operator" of a vessel or facility any mortgage lender, insured depository institution, or Federal lending institution (lender) that acquires such vessel or facility through foreclosure or that conducts a restructuring of a loan or other extension of credit with the owner of the vessel or facility, provided such lender complies with specified procedures or guidelines.

Specifies that "participation in the management of a vessel or facility" (by the lender) for purposes of such Act (in which case such exemption would not apply) does not include: (1) the sale of collateral; (2) actions taken by a lender to comply with such procedures or guidelines, including the conduct of a Phase I Environmental Audit of the vessel or facility; (3) actions taken by a lender to responsibly manage the vessel or facility upon learning of any contamination so as not to cause a release of a hazardous substance from or at the vessel or facility, or to harm the public health and safety or the environment, during any period while the lender is acting to administer or wind down the affairs of the owner or while diligently proceeding to pass title of the vessel or facility; or (4) the status of having the capacity to affect hazardous waste disposal management decisions of the vessel or facility, without actually making or influencing any such decisions.

Requires the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to assure that depository and lending institutions and mortgage lenders develop and implement adequate procedures to evaluate potential environmental risks that may arise from or at vessels or facilities subject to their lending and fiduciary activities.

States that the exclusion under such Act shall not affect the liability of a person who, by any act or omission, causes or contributes to a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance from or at a vessel or facility.

Specifies that a defendant who has acquired real property establishes a rebuttable presumption that he has made "all appropriate inquiry" within the meaning of such Act if he establishes that, immediately prior to or at the time of acquisition, he obtained or conducted a Phase I Environmental Audit of the real property which meets the requirements of such Act. Defines "Phase I Environmental Audit" as an investigation of the real property, conducted by a certified environmental professional, to determine or discover any indicators of the presence or likely presence of a release or threatened release of hazardous substances on the property and which consists of a review of: (1) the recorded chain of title documents; (2) aerial photographs, maps, and other appropriate historical information which may reflect prior uses of the property and which are reasonably obtainable through State or local government agencies; (3) recorded environmental cleanup liens against the property; (4) reasonably obtainable Federal, State, and local government records of sites or facilities where there has been a release of hazardous substances and which are likely to cause or contribute to a release or threatened release of hazardous substances on the property, and other specified environmental records; (5) a visual site inspection of the property and all facilities and improvements on the property; and (6) a visual site inspection of adjacent property, to the extent permitted by the owners or operators of such property.

Sets forth additional requirements with respect to the Phase I Environmental Audit.

Directs the Administrator to promulgate regulations to expedite the determination of the allocation of responsibility of a person claiming no liability with respect to a release based on the "innocent landowner defense." Authorizes the Administrator to grant a conditional release from liability to such person. Requires the Administrator to revoke the conditional release if any new information with respect to such person is obtained during the course of settlement proceedings in connection with such release and, in such case, to determine the allocation of responsibility of such person along with the other potentially responsible parties.

Requires that studies, investigations, and other activities regarding the Superfund evaluation process be streamlined with respect to sites that were used for similar purposes and that contain similar contamination.

Expresses the sense of the Congress that, in carrying out such Act, the Administrator should: (1) focus the conduct of removal and remedial actions on public health, safety, and environmental considerations, rather than on litigation, through means such as the more frequent use of the authority provided under such Act to enter into de minimis settlements; (2) further delineate priorities within the National Priority List for purposes of ensuring that the sites which present the greatest danger to the public health and welfare are cleaned up first; and (3) provide the Congress with a more accurate estimate of the long-term funding necessary to carry out such Act.