Category Archives: CERCLA

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Guidance for Voluntary Cleanups and Preserving Potential Contribution Rights

State voluntary cleanup programs have facilitated the cleanup and reuse of contaminated commercial and industrial properties throughout the country. The benefits of cleaning up and reusing contaminated properties are difficult to overstate—these voluntary cleanups promote reuse of existing infrastructure, protect human health, provide economic benefits to the surrounding area and assist in the preservation of … Continue Reading

PFAS Solution Moving Through Congress on Must-Pass Defense Bill

PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) have been under scrutiny on both sides of the Capitol in recent months, and the Senate made significant headway in late June in reaching consensus on PFAS legislation. Following two hearings in the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee this spring, a package was unveiled and quickly considered in … Continue Reading

FDA Findings on PFAS Chemicals in U.S. Food and Drinking Water Supply

This week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed it had conducted a study finding that certain types of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have entered American food and drinking water supplies; however, “[c]urrent FDA testing has found that most foods have no or very low levels of PFAS.” The FDA’s efforts are ongoing … Continue Reading

Credits for Superfund Settlement Payments and What That Means for Settlement Strategy

When many parties are jointly and severally liable for the same contamination problem, not every one of those parties can pay more than its fair share of that joint liability in a settlement. Section 113(f)(2) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA” or “Superfund”) assures that the non-settling parties get the benefit … Continue Reading

Enforcing the CERCLA Permit Bar . . . in State Court

From David G. Mandelbaum, a member of the Massachusetts Bar: As is familiar, section 121(e)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. § 9621(e)(1), exempts Superfund cleanups from all federal, state, and local permits. In addition, section 113(b) grants the federal district courts exclusive jurisdiction “over all controversies arising under” CERCLA. … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Prospective Purchasers of Contaminated Property and Their Administrative Records

On April 26, 2019, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) voided two amendments to a prospective purchaser agreement (PPA) for the Bishop Tube Site entered into in 2007 and 2010. Del. Riverkeeper Network v. Dep’t of Envt’l Prot’n, EHB Dkt. No. 2018-020-L (Constitution Drive Partners). The underlying PPA was dated 2005. The Department of Environmental … Continue Reading

Can a State Provide Oversight Under a Federal CERCLA Order or Decree?

Section 400(h) of the National Contingency Plan (NCP) contains an unremarked, yet problematic, last sentence. The NCP, of course, governs response actions under the federal Comprehensive Environmental, Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund); the government cannot recover costs incurred inconsistently with that regulation. 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a)(1-4)(A). Section 400(h) provides: (h) Oversight. The … Continue Reading

What You Need to Know About the Superfund Task Force’s Recommendations

There are over 1,300 sites listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priorities List of contaminated sites that require cleanup, over a hundred of which are located in Pennsylvania. In May, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt promised to get “hands-on” with the Superfund program in order to expedite the cleanup of contaminated sites around the country, … Continue Reading

CERCLA Statutes of Limitations Confusion in Administrative Settlements

When a private party enters into a CERCLA section 113(f)(B) administrative settlement, it may subsequently pursue the costs incurred under that administrative settlement against other PRPs. However, whether the settling party may bring a section 107 cost recovery claim or a section 113 contribution claim depends on the language of the settlement. A court’s interpretation … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Won’t Consider What Level of Deference States Should Be Given Under CERCLA

As noted previously, the Ninth Circuit found, in Arizona v. City of Tucson, 761 F.3d 1005 (9th Cir. 2014), that state government agencies are not afforded the same level of deference as EPA on the question of whether a CERCLA consent decree is fair, reasonable and consistent with CERCLA.  Arizona filed a petition for writ … Continue Reading

A Different Level of Deference Given to States in CERCLA Consent Decrees

In a recent decision, Arizona v. City of Tucson, 761 F.3d 1005 (9th Cir. 2014), the Ninth Circuit found that state government agencies should not be afforded the same deference as EPA on the question of whether a CERCLA consent decree is fair, reasonable and consistent with CERCLA. In my recent column for Pennsylvania Law Weekly, I examine … Continue Reading
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