University of Delaware
delware environmental institute

DNREC: Gov. Markell signs three bills to spur brownfields development while safeguarding groundwater and public health

On a former brownfield site that’s now a WSFS Bank branch location, Governor Jack Markell signed legislation that enhances the state’s capabilities for transforming environmentally impaired properties while also better protecting public health and groundwater resources from hazardous releases. Joined by the bills’ sponsors, Senator David McBride (D-Hawk’s Nest) and Representative Debra Heffernan (D-6th District), and DNREC Secretary David S. Small, Gov. Markell signed into law three bills that made changes in lending and liability language to Delaware’s Hazardous Substance Cleanup Act (HSCA), the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Act and the Jeffery Davis Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) Act.

The three bills, Senate Bill 198 and House Bills 367 and 368 codify lender liability provisions and clarify what lenders need to do to maintain their liability protection. In addition to making a number of technical revisions to Delaware’s HSCA, UST and AST cleanup programs, the bills signed by Gov. Markell ensure that banks and lending institutions are not held responsible for contamination on the site solely because they foreclose or provide the financing on properties that may be contaminated with hazardous substances and petroleum products.

“These new laws represent continued progress to make Delaware a safer and healthier state for residents and businesses, while promoting safe economic development at previously contaminated sites,” said Governor Markell. “To encourage lending institutions to support redevelopment of these sites, we need to ensure that they will not be punished for the pollution that they did not cause. It is the individuals and entities who contaminate our environment who should be held responsible for cleaning up their mess to the greatest extent possible. I thank Senator McBride and Representative. Heffernan for their leadership in ensuring that DNREC continues to have the legal tools needed to protect Delaware’s groundwater resources, which are so vital to our environment and economy.”