Responsibility for old landfills – KHO:2013:187

HPP successfully assisted a private party in administrative compulsion proceedings concerning the allocation of duty to investigate the contamination caused by an old landfill which had seized its operations in 1957. Initiated in 2009 in the Centre for the Environment of Uusimaa, the matter advanced via the Administrative Court of Vaasa to the Supreme Administrative Court which rendered in the matter its decision KHO:2013:187, published in the Court’s Yearbook. According to the Supreme Administrative Court the city which had previously operated the landfill and thus caused the contamination could be held responsible to investigate. No previous case law existed in the matter.

As the duty to investigate is factually often parallel to the duty to treat the soil which, as such, is a separate responsibility, the decision of the Supreme Administrative Court may be considered to also signify the Court’s stance towards the allocation of the actual treatment responsibility. As an expression of policy concerning both the investigation and treatment responsibility the decision bears significant relevance to several municipalities having operated old landfills because it even imposes the responsibility of old landfills to municipalities as landfill operators.

Attorney-at-law, partner Jari Tuomala at HPP provided the assistance in the matter.

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