Is it reasonable to hold descendant companies, several times removed, and a century+ distant from the original offenders liable? Taken in the extreme, could say the city of Albany NY sue the Netherlands for shoddy sewer construction on State St that happened 350 years ago? (Albany very recently had some sewer lines still in operation that were built hundreds of years ago by the Dutch). As the detritus of progress grows more dangerous and toxic, this is a legal issue that will need addressing.
At what point does punishing people/companies, who had no direct complicity what so ever in some incident, become excessive and patently unfair?
Society loves to identify scapegoats for everything and "make them pay", but what about when the responsible parties have been dead for 100+ years and nobody really knows who they were anyway? Something to think about.
New York Magazine
[...]a thin dribble that betrays the presence of a supertanker’s worth of the stuff submerged in the age-old geology of Greenpoint. It’s actually more than a century’s worth of spills, leaks, and waste dumped by oil companies that has pooled into a vast underground lake, more than 55 acres wide and up to 25 feet thick. First discovered by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1978, the Greenpoint spill has been estimated at anywhere between 17 million and 30 million gallons—three times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill. That makes it the largest known oil spill in American history[...]