Innocent could end up liable
INNOCENT people are open to becoming victims under the current legislation governing polluted sites, says a Sydney lawyer who provided help and support for Coramba pollution victims Peter and Belinda Attwill.
“The Attwills were innocent victims of pollution,” said senior associate with Gadens Lawyers Christina Renner.
“It was quite a terrible situation and the legislation did not help (them).
“If the polluter is made insolvent or won’t take responsibility that can move the hierarchy of liability under the Contaminated Lands Management Act to the innocent owner.
“Public funds can be accessed by an innocent owner but that can lead to the innocent owner being used as a scapegoat.”
There is no clause in the legislation saying an innocent property owner does not have to pay for cleaning up pollution which ends up on land he or she owns.
The Attwills’ case against the Coramba Service Station concluded on February 28 with an out-of court settlement for the plaintiffs, the Attwills, without admission of liability by the defendants, the service station owners.