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One of the popular ways of dealing with contaminated sites that are “underwater” i.e.   where the economic value of the property does not justify remediation, is to abandon it by letting it escheat to the Crown. Escheat  happens when a corporation is dissolved, leaving no one to receive its property, or when a person dies leaving no one to inherit.

A few years ago, the Ontario government decided to find out how many sites it had acquired through escheat. We hear that the count is up to an astounding 330,000, most of them in rural areas. The July 1, 2011 standards (Reg. 153/04), which made it so much more expensive to remediate many sites, will likely worsen the problem in the coming years…

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