Washington Law Review


The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) provides private parties with the right to recover their cleanup costs from third parties responsible for contaminating sites with hazardous waste. To do so, plaintiffs must show that their response costs are consistent with the National Contingency Plan (NCP), which establishes procedures and standards for hazardous waste cleanup. Courts presently diverge regarding the NCP community relations requirement. Some courts find that private parties satisfy these public participation provisions by working with a government agency. Other courts bold that private parties cannot recover their cleanup costs without providing the public with an opportunity to comment. This Comment examines CERCLA and the NCP community relations requirement, and argues that courts must recognize that public participation, which involves highly localized and distinct community concerns, is crucial to the attainment of a CERCLA-quality cleanup. Therefore, private parties must provide an opportunity for public participation to recover their cleanup costs under the NCP.

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