WASHINGTON -- Issuers and bondholders could suddenly find that their bonds are worthless and they are liable for millions of dollars in cleanup costs if they own waste sites found contaminated under the Superfund law, analysts warned.

Although no such situation has yet occurred, they cautioned, it is legally possible and appears to be an accident just waiting to happen. Superfund litigants are increasingly searching for "deep-pocket" parties who can share the high costs of hazardous waste cleanup as they venture into the sometimes untested legal territory established by the 1980 law.

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