Mealey's Pollution Liability

  • March 27, 2020

    Judge:  Groups Can Pursue Claim Only Over Company’s Mercury Discharges

    WHEELING, W.Va. — A federal judge in West Virginia on March 24 ruled that two environmental groups can pursue a Clean Water Act (CWA) claim that a company’s discharges of mercury into the Ohio River exceed levels of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, finding that the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is not diligently pursuing an action against the defendant company’s predecessor following the entry of a 2013 consent decree (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Eagle Natrium LLC, No. 19-CV-236, N.D. W.Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51247).

  • March 27, 2020

    Port’s Abatement, Public Nuisance Claims In PCB Suit Survive Summary Judgment

    SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified Port District’s claims for public nuisance and abatement stemming from polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the San Diego Bay survived motions for summary judgment filed by Monsanto Co. and others when a federal judge in California ruled March 26 that the plaintiff had standing to bring the public nuisance claim and that its request for abatement was ripe for adjudication (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15-cv-578-WQH-AGS, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. 52723).

  • March 27, 2020

    Getty Petroleum Pays $22M To Settle MTBE Case With State Of New Jersey

    TRENTON, N.J. — Getty Petroleum Marketing Inc. (GPMI) and its successors on Feb. 27 agreed to pay $22 million to resolve claims against them brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) related to groundwater contamination from the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) that leaked from underground storage tanks (USTs) at various gas stations.  The settlement was authorized by a New Jersey federal judge in a joint consent order (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Amerada Hess Corp., et al., No. 15-6468, D. N.J.).

  • March 26, 2020

    Judge Dismisses State Law Cleanup Suit, Finds CERCLA Preempts Limitations Period

    INDIANAPOLIS  — A federal judge in Indiana on March 25 ruled that a lead smelting company’s inexplicable delay in filing a state law cleanup action lawsuit warranted its dismissal, finding that the state law’s statute of limitations period directly conflicts with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act’s three-year limitations period (Refined Metals Corp. v. NL Industries Inc., No. 19-cv-4578-JMS-DLP, S.D. Ind., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51512).

  • March 25, 2020

    Judge Stays Group’s Suit Over ExxonMobil Pending EPA’s Permit Decision

    BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on March 21 stayed an environmental group’s lawsuit accusing ExxonMobil Corp., ExxonMobil Oil Corp. and ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. of violating the Clean Water Act  (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) at one of its terminals, finding that the action should not proceed until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency renders a decision on the renewal of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Conservation Law Foundation Inc. v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 16-11950-MLW, D. Mass., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49270).

  • March 25, 2020

    Polluter Seeks Review Of Tribes’ Jurisdiction To Impose Toxic Waste Storage Fees

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indian tribes that want the owner of a Superfund site to continue to pay an annual $1.5 million use permit fee to store millions of tons of toxic waste on private land within their reservation have stretched the landmark jurisdictional ruling in Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544 (1981), too far, the property owner tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a March 16 petition for certiorari (FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, No. 19-1143, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 24, 2020

    Judge Strikes Expert Report, Says It Challenges Decided Wetlands Determination

    ERIE, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on March 20 granted the government’s motion to strike exhibits filed as part of a farm owner’s redrafted motion to vacate a consent decree in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit, holding that a previously undisclosed expert report challenges a previously made determination that the parcel of land at issue is a wetland under the statute (United States v. Robert Brace, et al., No. 90-229E, W.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48326).

  • March 20, 2020

    Kaiser Gypsum Insurers To Pay $50.6 Million For Superfund Site Cleanup Costs

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ten settlements with insurers of Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. that will bring more than $50 million to an escrow fund to pay for the cleanup of two polluted sites in Washington state received approval March 12, 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.).

  • March 19, 2020

    Plaintiffs:  Companies Liable For Tainting Water With Various Toxic Chemicals

    LOS ANGELES — Numerous plaintiffs sued chrome plating companies in California federal court on March 18, contending that they have violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and are responsible for groundwater contamination from hexavalent chromium and various solvents (Arconic Inc., et al. v. Cal-Tron Plating Inc., et al., No. 20-2586, C.D. Calif.).

  • March 17, 2020

    Government: Consent Decree With Fracking Company Resolves Contamination Issues

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — The U.S. government on March 16 filed a brief in Ohio federal court in support of a consent decree that would settle a lawsuit for injunctive relief and civil penalties against a hydraulic fracturing company for violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at multiple oil and gas production facilities the government contends are liable for contaminating the air with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (United States v. Gulfport Energy Corporation, No. 20-340, S.D. Ohio).

  • March 17, 2020

    American Plains Pipeline To Pay $60M Over 2015 Spill

    LOS ANGELES — The federal government, state of California and Plains All American Pipeline L.P. on March 13 entered into an agreement in federal court in California in which the company agreed to pay more than $60 million in civil penalties and damages to resolve allegations stemming from a May 2015 pipeline spill on a beach near Santa Barbara, Calif., that resulted in the discharge of 2,934 barrels of crude oil (United States, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline L.P., et al., No. 20-2415, C.D. Calif.).

  • March 17, 2020

    Dominion Energy Agrees To Pay $1.4M To Resolve Suit Over Discharges

    RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Electric and Power Co., doing business as Dominion Energy Virginia, on March 13 entered into an agreement with the federal government and state of Virginia in federal court in Virginia that requires the company to pay $1.4 million to resolve allegations that discharges from coal ash pond at two of its facilities violated the Clean Water Act (CWA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and state laws (United States, et al. v. Virginia Electric and Power Co., No. 20-cv-00177, E.D. Va.).

  • March 13, 2020

    Idaho High Court Affirms Penalties Against Man For Unpermitted Solid Waste Site

    BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Supreme Court on March 11 affirmed a trial court judge’s ruling imposing civil penalties and entering an injunction against a man accused by the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) of operating an unpermitted solid waste facility, holding that grass clippings and leaves constitute solid waste under the state’s Solid Waste Management Rules and finding that the agency’s enforcement action was timely (Idaho Department of Environmental Quality v. David R. Gibson, et al., No. 46217, Idaho Sup., 2020 Ida. LEXIS 48).

  • March 12, 2020

    EPA Announces Settlement With Company Over Failure To Safely Manage Refrigerant

    YUMA, Ariz. — A regional branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on March 6 announced that it had reached a settlement with a company that stores and distributes produce from a facility in Yuma, Ariz., over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) stemming from the company’s failure to properly manage the storage of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic chemical used in the refrigeration system at the site and that can be corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs.

  • March 12, 2020

    Indiana Panel: Agency Used Proper Guidelines When Deciding Cleanup’s Completion

    INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana appeals panel on March 4 overturned a trial court’s ruling vacating an administrative appeals board’s decision that held that the city of Indianapolis and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) erred when issuing a no further action (NFA) letter regarding remediation work, holding that the city and the agency used the proper guidelines when deciding that the cleanup work sufficiently reduced levels of hazardous substances (Indianapolis, et al. v. Moran Electric Service Inc., No. 18A-PL-3055, Ind. App., 2020 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 277).

  • March 10, 2020

    Suncor Energy To Pay $9M To Colorado Department Over Refinery Violations

    DENVER — Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc. on March 6 agreed to pay $9 million to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for emissions and operating and monitoring violations that occurred at its Commerce City, Colo., refinery between 2017 and 2019, the department announced, stating that it is the largest payment the state has received for violations at one facility (In the Matter of Suncor Energy (U.S.A.) Inc., Nos. 2019-097, 2019-194, Colo. Dept. Public Health & Envir.).

  • March 10, 2020

    City, County Of Honolulu Sue Fossil Fuel Producers Over Climate Change

    HONOLULU — The city and county of Honolulu on March 9 filed a lawsuit in state court accusing 20 fossil fuel producers of public nuisance, trespass and strict liability for their conduct in marketing and promoting their products despite knowing that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to climate change (City and County of Honolulu v. Sunoco LP, et al., No. 1CCV-2020-0000380, Hawaii Cir., 1st Cir.).

  • March 09, 2020

    Judge: Insurer Has Duty To Defend Suits Arising From Contaminated Groundwater Claims

    SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on Feb. 28 held that an insurer has a duty to defend its insureds against underlying third-party complaints seeking indemnity and contribution for a putative class action lawsuit over contaminated groundwater, finding that if he were to adopt the insurer’s reading of the pollution exclusion, he would be at risk of extending the exclusion beyond a layperson's understanding (Kingsley Management, Corp., et al. v. Occidental Fire & Casualty Company Of North Carolina, et al., No. 19-1361, S.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34836).

  • March 06, 2020

    4th Circuit Panel Affirms Remand Of Baltimore’s Climate Change Suit

    RICHMOND, Va. — A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 6 affirmed a ruling remanding the mayor and city council of Baltimore’s lawsuit alleging that producers and sellers of fossil fuels are liable for climate change-related damages to the city’s infrastructure, finding that the federal officer doctrine was not grounds for removing the case to federal court (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. BP Plc, et al., No. 19-1644, 4th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 7083).

  • March 04, 2020

    Youths, Group Petition 9th Circuit For Rehearing In Climate Change Suit

    PORTLAND, Ore. — A number of youths and an environmental group claiming that the federal government knew about the association between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels on March 2 petitioned the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for an en banc rehearing, arguing that a divided Jan. 17 ruling that found that the plaintiffs’ claims could not be redressed in federal court should be vacated (Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-36082, 9th Cir.).