October 27, 2004

Florida DEP Considers Controversial Notification Requirement

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Lawrence E. Sellers

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) currently is considering a draft of a proposed rule that would require the person responsible for site rehabilitation (PRSR) to promptly notify neighbors, including adjacent property owners and residents, of any off-site contamination. The proposal was prompted by an incident in south Manatee County, Florida, where residents did not learn of contamination from a nearby plant until several years after it was discovered.

If adopted, the proposal would require the PRSR to give certain notices if it, its agent or other representative, discovers that contamination has migrated from the source property into any medium beyond the property. The PRSR must notify DEP in writing within seven days of the date of discovery of any off-site contamination. In addition, the PRSR must provide notice to the county health department and record owners, residents and business tenants of any real property into which the contamination has migrated within 30 days of the date of discovery.

If, however, the off-site contamination presents an imminent threat of exposure (such as when contamination is detected in water supply wells or surfaces soils with which direct contact could result), the notice must be provided within three days of discovery.

The proposal is controversial with some because of the short notice requirements and some of the practical difficulties presented.

The proposed notice requirement is included among the numerous changes to Chapter 62-780, the contaminated site clean-up criteria rule. The proposal will be the subject of a public workshop to be held on October 28 in Tallahassee. 

Related Insights