Briefcase: Harvey and Hazardous Waste Sites

Guest: Tracy Hester


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To protect people and the environment from spills of hazardous substances, Congress in 1980 passed the Superfund Statute. Tracy Hester, with the University of Houston Law Center is an expert in environmental law. He explains how this act is relevant to Houston's ongoing natural disaster efforts.

"When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, it unfortunately flooded former hazardous waste sites," Professor Hester said. "Superfund gives the EPA the power to clean up these kinds of contaminated areas."

Hester explained that people living next door to damaged sites can file lawsuits. "Superfund holds persons responsible for releases of hazardous substances that they cause," he continued. "The post-Harvey environmental liability battles have only just begun, such as how to deal with flooded clean-up sites. Superfund's act of God defense will likely get a fresh look, since hurricanes are foreseeable in the gulf coast region."