If I own a house that was built on a dumping site for several businesses, how do I find out what was dumped, when, and is my well water safe?

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If I own a house that was built on a dumping site for several businesses, how do I find out what was dumped, when, and is my well water safe?

House built on farmland used to dump manufacturing waste. Builder employs the lawyer (or his son I’M not sure yet) that went after the farmer where my subdivision was built. They must have knowledge of the past use of this land. I found out today from one of the village trustees. Apparently the people that know local history drink only bottled water. I’m worried.

Asked on October 18, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You should retain a "toxic tort" attorney to help you--this is a very complex matter.

The short answer as to what the attorney (or you, if you don't get a laywer) can do is:

1) There may be public records available: for example, open records requests can be made to local authorities (to see if any licenses, permits, etc. were granted) and to the state dept. of environmental protection (any reports of dumping, complaints, enforcement actions, etc.), or even the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

2) You can ask the builder for anything he knows--he may give it to you.

3) You can ask the neighbors for what they know, including the names of any companies involved.

4) If a legal action is brought, you will then have available the legal processes or tools  of "discovery"--interrogatories, notices to produce documents, subpoenas--to get information from any people or companies you feel may have relevant information.

Again, the above can be involved and complicated--you should get an attorney to help you.

And don't underestimate the power of doing some some "google" searches--internet searches can sometimes reveal surprising amounts of information. Good luck.


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