Agency failed to collect millions in cleanup fees

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(Dept. of Toxic Substances Control Photo)

(Dept. of Toxic Substances Control Photo)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Polluters liable for $100 million in cleanup fees for contaminated properties were never billed, and instead California taxpayers were stuck with the tab.

The Sacramento Bee reports the state Department of Toxic Substances Control simply failed to send bills to polluters for the cleanup of some 1,700 sites ranging from junkyards to small businesses over the past 26 years.

California law stipulates that polluters must cover cleanup costs.

In addition, the department identified $45 million for which bills were sent but money was not collected, and nearly $40 million that is tied up in litigation, bankruptcy or other legal matters.

The agency’s chief, Deborah Raphael, tells the newspaper the failure to send bills apparently stems from a lack of clear rules and paperwork mistakes.

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