How does a party become immune from liability under the Texas Innocent Owner/Operator Program?

According to the TCEQ’s website, to become eligible for immunity, the innocent owner or operator must grant reasonable access to the property for future investigation or remediation, agree on necessary restrictions to protect human health and the environment, if appropriate, and demonstrate that:

  • The property has become contaminated because of a release or migration of contaminants from a source or sources not located on or at the property;
  • He or she has not caused or contributed to the source or sources of the contamination;
  • He or she did not acquire the property from the person that caused the release; or if the property was purchased from the owner of the source property after September 1, 1997, the effective date of the IOP law, the applicant must demonstrate he did not know or have reason to know of the contamination at the time the property was acquired.

As per the IOP law, it will be necessary for IOP parties to submit: (1) an application; (2) a fee of $1,000 to cover the TCEQ's review cost. (Any portion of the application fee not incurred or obligated in the review of the application shall be refunded.); and (3) a Site Investigation Report (SIR) that describes the contaminated area of concern.

Upon completion of a SIR that demonstrates that the above criteria have been met, then the owner/operator is eligible to receive an IOC from the TCEQ. Parties may terminate their participation in the IOP at any time by written notice to the program.

You can learn more about the Texas Innocent Owner/Operator Program at the TCEQ’s website at: https://www.tceq.texas.gov/remediation/iop/iop.html

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