Mealey's Pollution Liability

  • August 18, 2020

    EPA: Methane Case Against It 'Moot' In Light Of Agency's Final Rule Announcement

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 14 moved in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by 14 states, the District of Columbia and the city of Chicago related to the EPA's delay in issuing a final rule to regulate methane emissions, arguing that the case is moot because the EPA has now issued a final rule (New York, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 18-773, D. D.C.).

  • August 18, 2020

    Judge Amends Ruling In Oil Spill Suit To Address Spoliation Defense

    NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on Aug. 14 granted in part a motion to amend a previous ruling on the admission of evidence defendants in an oil spill cleanup dispute obtained from the U.S. Coast Guard pursuant to requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), finding that the earlier ruling should have addressed the defendants' argument that the Coast Guard destroyed evidence (United States v. E.R.R. LLC, et al., No. 19-2340, E.D. La., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146616).

  • August 17, 2020

    South Dakota High Court: Fund's Claims Against BP For Reimbursement Untimely

    PIERRE, S.D. — The South Dakota Supreme Court on Aug. 12 sustained rulings finding that the state and the South Dakota Petroleum Release Compensation Fund's claims seeking $3.1 million in reimbursement for funds it provided to BP PLC and its subsidiaries for cleanups from underground storage tank (UST) leaks at 19 gas stations across the state were untimely and that the fund was unable to provide sufficient evidence to show that BP had insurance coverage that would cover the cleanup costs for 27 sites (South Dakota, et al. v. BP PLC, et al., No. 28933, S.D. Sup., 2020 S.D. LEXIS 84).

  • August 13, 2020

    Chevron's Request For Rehearing Of Climate Change Ruling Denied By 9th Circuit

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 12 denied Chevron Corp.'s motion for an en banc rehearing of its May 26 decision to overturn a federal judge in California's ruling denying remand of a climate change lawsuit brought by Oakland and San Francisco on the ground that the cities' public nuisance claim did not arise under federal law (Oakland, et al. v. BP PLC, et al., No. 18-16663, 9th Cir.).

  • August 12, 2020

    Property Owner's $10,000 Settlement Offer For Cleanup Is Reasonable, Judge Finds

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on July 29 approved as fair and reasonable a third-party defendant's offer to pay $10,000 toward remediation at a former metal plating site in West Sacramento, Calif., finding that the amount is close to the 1 percent of contamination it is responsible for at the property (West Sacramento v. R&L Business Management, et al., No. 18-CV-00900, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134610).

  • August 12, 2020

    Universal Waste Handler Sued By California Over Disposal Of Electronic Waste

    SAN FRANCISCO — A universal waste disposal company was sued by the state of California and the director of the Department of Toxic Substances Control on July 22 in California state court for allegedly violating the state's Hazardous Waste Control Law when shredding electronic waste such as televisions and residual printed circuit boards and closing the facility without providing the agency with a closure plan (California, ex rel. Meredith Williams v. Zarc International LLC, No. CGC-20-585506, Calif. Super,. San Francisco Co.).

  • August 11, 2020

    Ruling Finding CERCLA Contribution Suit Untimely Reversed By 9th Circuit

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 10 overturned a federal judge in California's ruling that found that a suit seeking contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act toward the costs of remediating the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Whittier, Calif., was untimely, holding that the limitations period is triggered when a settlement imposes costs on the parties seeking contribution (Arconic Inc., et al. v. APC Investment Co., et al., No. 19-55181, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 25185).

  • August 11, 2020

    Breach Of Contract Claim Dismissed In Saltwater Waste Cleanup Suit

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on July 23 dismissed a breach of contract claim against an insured in a dispute over cleanup costs arising out of the release of waste saltwater after determining that the claim is barred by New Mexico law (St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., et al. v. Sedona Contracting Inc., et al., No. 20-79, D. N.M., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131538).

  • August 07, 2020

    Insurer's Motion For Default Judgment Granted In Pollution Exclusion Coverage Suit

    SPOKANE, Wash. — A Washington federal judge on Aug. 4 granted an insurer's motion for entry of default against an insured in a coverage suit arising out of the release of hazardous substances from an insured's laboratory after determining that the insurer would be prejudiced if default judgment were not entered (Continental Western Insurance Co. v. Amplicon Express Inc., No. 19-341, E.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138837).

  • August 07, 2020

    Pollution Liability Insurer Owes No Coverage For Costs Incurred To Prevent Shutdown

    BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on Aug. 5 granted a pollution liability insurer's motion for summary judgment after determining that the insured is not entitled to costs incurred to prevent the suspension of its operations following a pollution discharge because the policy does not provide coverage for the suspension of operations and there is nothing to suggest that the insurer's denial of coverage was unreasonable (Ken's Foods LLC v. Steadfast Insurance Co., No. 19-12492, D. Mass., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139190).

  • August 06, 2020

    EPA To Spend $360M To Resolve Utah's Claims Over Gold King Mine Spill

    SALT LAKE CITY — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Aug. 5 announced that it reached a $360 million agreement with the state of Utah that would resolve the state’s claims under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for the cleanup of contamination stemming from the Gold King Mine spill in 2015.

  • August 05, 2020

    9th Circuit Denies Request For En Banc Rehearing Of Climate Change Remand Order

    SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 4 denied Chevron Corp.'s petition for an en banc rehearing of arguments challenging a ruling remanding lawsuits brought by four California municipalities over infrastructure damages caused by climate change on the ground that federal officer jurisdiction was not established because the defendant energy companies were not acting under the government when extracting and producing fossil fuels (San Mateo, et al. v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 18-15499, 9th Cir.).

  • August 03, 2020

    Judge Refuses To Stay CERCLA Suit Pending EPA's Choice Of Cleanup Plan

    MISSOULA, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on July 31 refused to stay a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit brought by the current owner of an aluminum smelting site against the former owner for contribution and cost recovery, finding that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision on a site specific cleanup plan will not change each party's responsibility for contamination on the property (Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co., No. CV 18-131, D. Mont., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 136687).

  • August 03, 2020

    Pollution Exclusion Bars Coverage For Damages Caused By Hydrochloric Acid Leak

    NEW ORLEANS — No coverage is owed for damages to an insured's property as a result of a hydrochloric acid leak because the policy's pollution exclusion bars coverage and the exception  to the exclusion does not apply, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said July 31 (Burroughs Diesel Inc. v. The Travelers Indemnity Company of America, No. 19-60875, 5th Cir.).

  • July 29, 2020

    Kaiser Gypsum Insurers To Pay $162,500 For Superfund Site Cleanup Costs

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A settlement with insurers of Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. that will bring more than $162,000 to an escrow fund to pay for the cleanup of polluted sites in Washington and Oregon received approval July 20, according to a North Carolina federal bankruptcy court docket entry (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).

  • July 24, 2020

    2nd Circuit Restores Cost Recovery Claim, Affirms Split Of Future Cleanup Costs

    NEW YORK — A two-judge panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 23 reinstated a current site owner's cost recovery claim under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, finding that a federal judge in New York misinterpreted a ruling that only one remedial action can occur at a given site, and affirmed a decision that a prior owner of the site should foot the bill for 95 percent of future removal actions of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (MPM Silicones LLC v. Union Carbide Corp., Nos. 17-3468, 17-3669, 2nd Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 23060).

  • July 22, 2020

    Judge: Chemical Generated During Process Of Making Drinking Water Not Solid Waste

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on July 20 awarded summary judgment to a city after finding that an environmental group's suit accusing it of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by providing drinking water containing hexavalent chromium was "seeking to force a square peg into a round hole" because the presence of the chemical in the water is not considered a solid waste under the statute (California River Watch v. City of Vacaville, Calif., No. 17-cv-00524-KJM-KJN, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127562).

  • July 21, 2020

    Monsanto Agrees To Pay $52M To Resolve District Of Columbia's PCB Lawsuit

    WASHINGTON, D.C.  — Monsanto Co. and the District of Columbia entered into a proposed agreement in District of Columbia Superior Court July 17 in which the company agreed to pay $52 million to resolve a May lawsuit that accused the company’s polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) products of contaminating waterways (District of Columbia v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 2020 CA 002445, D.C. Super.).

  • July 20, 2020

    Judge Refuses To Stay, Reconsider RCRA Ruling After Agency Issues Cleanup Order

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on July 17 denied a motion to stay proceedings filed by a company accused of contaminating soil and groundwater in a former metal plating facility and denied a motion to reconsider filed by city of West Sacramento, finding that an order issued by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) in May about the cleanup of the site does not warrant the application of the primary jurisdiction doctrine or constitute newly discovered evidence that should prompt reconsideration of an earlier ruling (West Sacramento v. R&L Business Management, et al., No. 18-CV-00900, E.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126479).

  • July 16, 2020

    Companies To High Court: City Concedes Split Exists On Review Of Remand Rulings

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — BP PLC and a number of other energy companies seeking the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of an order affirming remand of a climate change lawsuit brought by the mayor and city council of Baltimore say in a July 15 reply brief that the high court’s review of the decision in necessary because the respondents admit that there is a split among the circuits about the extent to which remand rulings can be reviewed on appeal (BP PLC, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, No. 19-1189, U.S. Sup.).

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