During the 1994-1995 legislative session, a bill encouraging the use of private alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in situations where multiple parties may be liable for contamination at a site was introduced by the Connecticut legislature’s joint Environment Committee. The bill, SB 1139, was sponsored by Sen. Cathy Cook (R-Groton), co-chairwoman of the Environment Committee, and supported by Rep. Jessie Stratton (D-Canton), co-chairwoman of the Environment Committee. The bill sought to establish a system that would both remove some of the disincentives that currently exist to cleaning up sites and reward parties who promptly resolve liability disputes and who move forward with clean-up.
SB 1139 represents Connecticut’s first step toward the development of a procedural alternative to litigation at multi-party contaminated sites. The bill was well-received by environmentalists, business interests, individual property owners, consultants, lenders, insurance companies and municipalities, in part because it would encourage parties to report previously unreported historic contamination by offering a limited amnesty program and by providing a “fast-track” privatized clean-up process. The bill rewards parties who work cooperatively to quickly allocate responsibility and initiate remediation. SB 1139 was set aside for further consideration in 1996 due to the size of the legislature’s 1995 environmental agenda and concerns expressed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).