Liability of Parent Corporations for Hazardous Waste Cleanup and Damages

19 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2016 Last revised: 4 Jan 2017

See all articles by Peter S. Menell

Peter S. Menell

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: 1986

Abstract

In its haste to address the great threat to public health and welfare posed by hazardous waste disposal, Congress did not specifically state whether parent corporations of responsible parties should be brought within the purview of CERCLA. This articles shows that economic considerations, reflected in CERCLA, favor imposing liability on parent corporations of insolvent responsible parties. A rule limiting liability would frustrate the government’s enforcement efforts and afford parent corporations a “safe harbor” for conducting overly risky hazardous waste disposal activities. To effectuate the principal purposes of CERCLA–prompt and effective cleanup of unsafe disposal sites and imposition of liability upon all responsible parties–courts should pierce the corporate veils of insolvent subsidiaries. Federal common law principles empower courts to impose liability upon parent corporations in order to implement fully Congress’s manifest intent and purpose.

Keywords: Environmental Law, CERCLA, Corporate law, Parent Corporation Liability

Suggested Citation

Menell, Peter S., Liability of Parent Corporations for Hazardous Waste Cleanup and Damages (1986). Harvard Law Review, Vol. 99, p. 986, 1986, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2861519

Peter S. Menell (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

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