Insurance and the Environmental Engineer

by David M. Rosenberg, Environmental Compliance Services, 520 Eagleview Blvd., P.O. Box, Exton, PA 19341-0570,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1995, Vol. 65, Issue 3, Pg. 69-71

Document Type: Feature article


The grading/excavation contractor had no problem completing the project, a routine regrading job with no visible problems or obstructions at the site, on time and on budget. Two years later, however, the contractor was unpleasantly surprised to find his company named in a major lawsuit over the work performed. An investigation had revealed that petroleum-contaminated soil now covered the site. Only a small, unknown portion of the area was contaminated when the contractor originally began his work, but during the regrading process, the contamination spread across the entire site. Eventually the contractor was dropped from the lawsuit, but only after he invested almost $250,000 in legal costs. Today's litigious society, coupled with the complexity of environmental regulations, exposes the general contracting and construction industry to a variety of risks. In this climate, contractors need to be prudent business people and experts in their particular fields. They also must be aware of the environmental liabilities they face when performing general contracting operations. No matter how incidental exposures appear, they must be considered in every project, since resulting environmental damage can be devastating.

Subject Headings: Contractors and subcontractors | Insurance | Environmental issues | Litigation | Site investigation | Pollution | Budgets | Coupling

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