NIBW Superfund and Your Property
Commonly Asked Questions
(Portions of this information piece were taken from an article prepared for the Arizona Real Estate Bulletin by the Office of the Attorney General, explaining the laws and policies which protect homeowners from Superfund cleanup liability.)
What is Superfund...and who pays for cleanup?
The federal Superfund law was created to clean up hazardous waste sites selected by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It worked like this - if the federal government spends Superfund monies investigating or cleaning up a site, it looks to the parties responsible for the contamination to reimburse the government's cleanup costs or to fund the cleanup themselves.
In short, Superfund policy is to "let the polluter pay". In the case of the North Indian Bend Wash (NIBW) Superfund site, this refers to the three companies deemed potentially responsible for the contamination - Motorola, Siemens and SmithKline Beecham.
How do I know if my property is within the NIBW Superfund site?
The NIBW Superfund site is designated by the EPA as the area over the plume of contamination as indicated in the most recent map provided by the EPA. Copies of the map are available by calling the City of Scottsdale Environmental Planning and Design Office Hotline 480-312-7899
Are homeowners liable for cleanup costs?
No. Homeowners face no liability for contamination caused by others as Superfund sites. Most of Arizona's federal Superfund sites involve groundwater contamination resulting from the disposal of industrial solvents by industrial facilities. In many instances, this water contamination has moved beyond the facilities boundaries to the aquifers under residential property. Sellers or buyers of residential property who have not caused or contributed to the contamination, simply are not liable for cleanup and no derivative liability exists for their lenders. In addition to the federal law, Arizona has its own mini-Superfund law which protects innocent homeowners from cleanup liability.
I'm selling my house...do I need to disclose the fact that it's in a Superfund site?
Yes. According to Arizona Real Estate Commissioner Judy Lowe, a careful reading of state law suggests that sellers should disclose the fact that their property is located in a Superfund site. If a real estate agent is involved in the sale, he or she is required to disclose this fact to the prospective buyer.
Whether disclosure is made by the seller or a real estate agent, the Superfund designation should be disclosed at the beginning of the first discussion about the property. Making this disclosure at the beginning of discussions, and before the buyer enters into a contract, provides the buyer with information necessary for making an informed decision. This will avoid any last-minute questions which could complicate the transaction.
Has there been a negative impact on property values within the NIBW Superfund site?
The City of Scottsdale commissioned an independent appraisal company to conduct two property value studies in 1992 and 1995 to assess whether property values had been impacted by being within the NIBW Superfund site. Both studies showed that the Superfund designation had no effect on property values. Copies of both studies are available by calling the City of Scottsdale Environmental Planning and Design Office Hotline 480-312-7899.
If you have questions about the NIBW Superfund program or cleanup activities, call:
- Craig Miller, Water Quality Coordinator, 480-312-8743
- Carolyn d'Almeida, NIBW Project Manager, (800) 231-3075
Or, go directly to EPA's Web site: EPA Region IX