Publication Date


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Special Contribution


The enactment in 1980 of the Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA") is commonly attributed to the uproar surrounding the evacuation of the Love Canal neighborhood in Niagara Falls, New York. The discovery of thousands of buried drums containing hazardous waste on a Douglas County, Georgia horse farm known as Basket Creek might be considered Georgia's Love Canal, not because of any particular environmental similarities to the Niagara Falls site, but because of the similarities in legislative impact. Just as the publicity surrounding Love Canal gave sudden rise to CERCLA, Basket Creek provided the primary impetus to the introduction and passage in the Georgia General Assembly of a "baby" Superfund, officially known as the Georgia Hazardous Site Response Act ("Georgia Act"). The Director of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division ("EPD") has aptly described the Georgia Act as the most significant environmental legislation passed in the last decade.

Like CERCLA, the Georgia Act vests tremendous power in the State EPD. Indeed, in certain respects, EPD's coercive authority under the new statute exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency's ("EPA") authority under CERCLA. Moreover, the Georgia Act carries significant legal consequences for those parties subject to it, posing dilemmas for the regulated community, particularly property owners who may find their property subject to disclosure requirements and deed notices.

This Article examines the Georgia Act's major features and discusses areas of ambiguity and controversy that may pose difficult dilemmas for the regulated community, thereby generating rulemaking disputes and litigation. Additionally, this Article examines the enforcement and liability provisions of the Georgia Act with particular emphasis on those that contrast markedly with CERCLA