Category Archives: Superfund

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Some Problems With Superfund Settlement Premiums

When a party “cashes out” of its liability to the government under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), under Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance in place since 1988 the settling party typically pays a premium over what would otherwise be its equitable share. Even though settlements have featured premiums for decades, … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Considers the Scope of “Matters Addressed” in CERCLA Settlements

This week, the Third Circuit issued an opinion in NJDEP v. American Thermoplastics Corp et al., No. 18-2865, which adds a new wrinkle on CERCLA section 113(f)(2), which bars non-settling parties from bringing claims for contribution against settling parties, while also placing new emphasis on CERCLA section 104 cooperative agreements in the context of settlements. … Continue Reading

The Supreme Court Allows State Law Claims for More Cleanup on Superfund Sites . . . Sometimes

On April 20, the United States Supreme Court decided that Montana homeowners within a Superfund site could seek to recover the costs of restoration of their land to its uncontaminated condition – a more complete cleanup than the Superfund remedy would accomplish – but only if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) ultimately approved the … Continue Reading

The Superfund Contribution Mind Pretzel…or One of Them

From the first days of Superfund litigation, lawyers and courts have complained that Congress did not distinguish itself when drafting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. Sections 9601-75. As the law has developed, court decisions have created additional problems. The interplay among the private cost recovery provision of Section 107(a)(1-4)(B) … Continue Reading

Congress Takes Initial Steps to Address PFAS in the National Defense Authorization Act Conference Report

On Dec. 11, the House of Representatives passed S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Senate followed suit on Dec. 17, bringing an end to protracted negotiations on this annual must-pass legislation. In one of their final acts, conferees agreed to provisions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Two major provisions … 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

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

New Delegation Centralizes Largest Superfund Cleanup Decisions

In a move designed to streamline approvals of and ensure consistency among the largest Superfund cleanups, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt last week approved a new delegation of authority giving him and his yet-to-be-named deputy the final signature authority to approve large Superfund cleanups over $50 million. Prior to the revision, approval authority rested with EPA’s 10 regional … Continue Reading
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