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
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
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
An appeal pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit asks whether CERCLA preempts state law claims for medical monitoring in Giovanni v. U.S. Department of the Navy, No. 17-2473 (3d Cir.). This is an important issue in the context of perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) because the exact health effects remain in dispute. … Continue Reading
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
On Dec. 1, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator signed a proposed rule, “Financial Responsibility Requirements under CERCLA § 108(b) for Classes of Facilities in the Hardrock Mining Industry,” which would impose new financial responsibility requirements for current owners and operators of hardrock mines, including numerous metal mines in the western United States. Federal Register … Continue Reading
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) upheld a statutory interpretation by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) that the statutory definition of “oil” does not include leaded gasoline. As a result, contamination from leaded gasoline released from a gas station was not eligible for less stringent remediation standards applicable to “oil” releases. Based on … Continue Reading
Recently, lawyers from Philadelphia’s Environmental Practice Group attended the Pennsylvania Environmental Law Forum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Organized by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the annual Forum includes educational presentations by experienced practitioners along with networking events. Jillian Kirn gave a presentation on cooling water intake structures commonly used by industrial facilities, such as power plants, and the … Continue Reading
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
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
Regulators need access to environmentally contaminated sites. They have to study them to determine whether the contamination requires a cleanup, they have to choose a cleanup, they have to conduct or direct implementation of that cleanup, and then they have to provide for its monitoring and maintenance. But when the contaminated property is not the … Continue Reading
The federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) allows private parties that incur cleanup costs to reallocate those costs to others through a cost recovery claim under section 107(a)(1-4)(B) or a contribution claim under section 113(f)(1) or (3)(B). So do some state statutes and state common law. There can only be one allocation … Continue Reading
My column this month in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly considers natural resource damages and their measurement. NRDs are available under a number of federal programs. To my knowledge, however, Pennsylvania state trustees have only sought to recover NRDs twice. We have to think about whether that might change. The Supreme Court’s plurality opinion in Robinson … Continue Reading
On September 11, 2014, the Second Circuit issued its decision in New York State Electric & Gas Corp. v. FirstEnergy Corp., No. 11-4143, a CERCLA cost recovery and contribution case arising from the cleanup of coal tar contamination at sixteen manufactured gas plants in New York. New York State Electric & Gas Corp (“NYSEG”) filed a … Continue Reading
This month’s column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly addresses the contamination risk faced by charities that accept donated land. I particularly treat the problem of charities whose very purpose calls for them to accept environmentally suspect property. Perhaps it has been a vacant lot subject to fly dumping. Perhaps the charity is specifically intended to locate in … Continue Reading
Today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in CTS Corp. v. Waldburger et al., No.13-339 (June 9, 2014) (slip op.) [link], in which it held that CERCLA section 309, 42 U.S.C. § 9658, does not preempt statutes of repose, reversing the Fourth Circuit. Section 9658(a) preempts state law statutes of limitation for personal injury and … Continue Reading
If you have a Superfund cleanup obligation, you may want to collect on insurance (if you have any) and also to seek contribution from others responsible for the Site. What happens to the contribution claim when you collect on the insurance? In most Superfund matters, the parties have simply ignored insurance recoveries. However, in those … Continue Reading
My October Environmental Practice Column in the Pennsylvania Law Weekly considers issues presented by the intersection of the bar on pre-enforcement review and reliance on “institutional controls.” These issues come up in federal Superfund matters under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-75. However, the discussion was motivated by a September 4 ruling by … Continue Reading
Section 107(a) of CERCLA says that section 107(b) lists the only defenses to a cost recovery claim, but it turns out there are many more. David Mandelbaum's monthly column in Pa. Law Weekly explores what this means.
… Continue Reading
When is a declaratory judgment required, permitted, or inappropriate under the federal Superfund statute? My December column in the Legal Intelligencer / Pennsylvania Law Weekly explores these issues.
… Continue Reading
Hamilton Hackney discusses two recent CERCLA cases, which address, respectively (1) the constitutionality of unilateral adminstrative orders (UAOs), and (2) who has authority to recover penalties for alleged violations of UAOs.
… Continue Reading