New Development: Reporting Environmental Contamination in Texas

08/15/2003

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) recently published an Interoffice Memorandum (“the Memorandum”) that directs the agency’s offices how to handle reporting of spills and releases, including the discovery of historic contamination.  It defines “historic contamination” as a “release” from an inactive source, whether of known or unknown quantities, citing as an example, contamination discovered during excavation activities.  Whether historic contamination must be reported (and by whom) has been a frequent topic of debate. The Memorandum announces a requirement that a “responsible person” or “RP” (undefined in the Memorandum) must report historic releases to the TCEQ within 24 hours of discovery if the release has caused or may cause pollution in any water of the state, and specifies requirements for the handling of the release, depending on its source and quantity.

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