It used to be asbestos, then it was mold. Now the big issue is toxic cleanup. What these issues have in common is that politicians, government regulators, and customers all insist that they be fixed — right away — but no one wants to pay.

Something else they have in common is that we didn't know they'd be problems until after the fact. As a result, contractors have been dropped into a swamp of lawsuits; obscure, confusing, and contradictory regulations; and oddly written contract provisions — all aimed at answering that ultimate question: Who gets stuck with the bill?

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