Rep. Wayne Owens, D-Utah, has thanked the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce for its support of his effort on a bill that could clarify when businesses and banks are responsible for hazardous waste cleanup of sites they buy or obtain through foreclosure.

A bill intended to accomplish this has been approved by the chamber's Congressional Relations Committee."This bill balances the need to protect the health and safety of the public with fairness to innocent parties facing the risk of high cost environmental cleanup," he said.

Problems have arisen because businesses and banks that obtain polluted property later discover they may be liable for cleanup through Environmental Protection Agency-Superfund action. Cleanup can be delayed while attorneys and the courts decide on the liability.

"The language in this bill ensures that those facing costly cleanup charges will not be mistreated. It also ensures that those liable for hazardous waste cleanup can't avoid responsibility by delaying the matter in the courts," he said.