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A prior owner of environmentally contaminated real property may soon face liability under New Jersey law for historical contamination which it did not contribute to or cause. New Jersey courts previously seemed to agree that the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act) exempted a prior owner of contaminated property from liability for hazardous substances that were discharged on its property before its ownership, unless the prior owner caused or contributed to the contamination. See, e.g., White Oak Funding v. Winning, 341 N.J. Super. 294, 300-01 (App. Div.), certif. denied 170 N.J. 209 (2001). A prior owner that did not cause or contribute to contamination is often referred to as an “interim owner” because it purchased the property after the discharge of contamination took place thereon and has since sold the property to a new owner.

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