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Mealey's Pollution Liability

  • March 19, 2019

    Kaiser Gypsum Debtors Settle Dispute Over Cleanup Costs At Oregon Plant

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on March 15 approved a settlement under which former Chapter 11 debtor Armstrong World Industries Inc. will pay $1 million to current debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. for cleanup cost recovery for a polluted Oregon manufacturing site (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).

  • March 15, 2019

    Majority Of Group’s Clean Water Act Claims Against ExxonMobil Survive Dismissal

    BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on March 14 denied ExxonMobil Corp.’s motion to dismiss a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit accusing the company of violating the terms of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit regarding the discharge of stormwater from a storage facility by failing to consider the effects of climate change and allowed the company to subpoena the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for testimony regarding the applicability of the primary jurisdiction doctrine (Conservation Law Foundation v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 16cv11950, D. Mass.).

  • March 12, 2019

    Chemical Maker Cannot Seek Contribution From Farm Over Possible Contamination

    TACOMA, Wash. — An organic chemical manufacturer that supplied a spongy waste material that contained plant nutrients and some hazardous substances to the owner of three farms that in turn used the material for fertilizer cannot seek contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a federal judge in Washington ruled March 5, holding that the maker’s consent decree with the Washington Department of Ecology did not allow it to pursue the claim (Emerald Kamala Chemical LLC v. Fire Mountain Farms Inc., No. C17-5472, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35206).

  • March 11, 2019

    High Court Review Sought For $8.25 Million Award To Tribes For CERCLA Costs

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reverse a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals finding that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a Canadian industrial polluter of the Columbia River for enforcement actions taken under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the company liable for the pollution says in a petition for certiorari docketed March 6 (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).

  • March 7, 2019

    Judge Refuses To Sever Port District, San Diego From PCB Contamination Suit

    SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on March 1 refused to sever claims brought by the San Diego Unified Port District and city of San Diego against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the San Diego Bay, finding that fundamental fairness and judicial economy weigh against severance (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33236).

  • March 7, 2019

    Judge Finds Government Should Cover 15 Percent Of Contactor’s Cleanup Costs

    SAN DIEGO — Following remand from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a federal judge in California held March 1 that the federal government should reimburse a military contractor for 10 percent of the costs the company incurred in remediating contamination from chlorinated solvents and 5 percent of the costs the company incurred in remediating chromium contamination at a 44-acre site the contractor used to manufacture aircraft and aircraft parts (TDY Holdings LLC v. United States, No. 07-CV-787-CAB-BGS, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34162).

  • March 7, 2019

    7th Circuit: No Need For Additional Cleanup At GE’s Former Site

    CHICAGO — A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 4 upheld a federal magistrate judge in Illinois’ ruling denying requests from the owner of a golf course and nearby residents for additional cleanup of a site that formerly housed a manufacturing plant operated by General Electric Co. (GE) of the property, holding that the magistrate judge’s finding that the company was liable for contamination under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) does not automatically warrant injunctive relief (LAJIM LLC, et al. v. General Electric Co., Nos. 18-1522, 18-2880, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6519).

  • March 5, 2019

    Judge Remands Cleanup Suit, Finds Allegations Do Not Challenge EPA’s Plan

    CHICAGO — A port district’s lawsuit against a company that formerly produced manufactured gas was remanded March 4 by a federal judge who ruled that the port district’s action does not raise federal question jurisdiction because the allegations do not seek to challenge a remediation plan approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Waukegan Port District v. North Shore Gas Co., No. 18 CV 7312, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33690).

  • March 5, 2019

    Judge: Port Of Seattle Can Face Group’s Suit Over Stormwater Discharges

    SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle’s motion to dismiss a suit brought by an environmental group accusing it of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by allowing for excessive levels of stormwater discharges was denied March 4 by a federal judge in Washington, who found that non-permit holders can also face liability under the act (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Total Terminals International LLC, No.  C18-0540RSL, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34042).

  • March 5, 2019

    Navajo Nation’s, States’ Claims Against EPA, U.S. Survive 2 Dismissal Bids

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge on Feb. 28 mostly declined to dismiss claims for recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act leveled by the Navajo Nation, New Mexico and Utah against the U.S. government for damages caused by the 2015 Gold King Mine explosion and acid mine drainage spill (In Re:  Gold King Mine Release, No. 1:18-md-02824, D. N.M., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33321).

  • March 4, 2019

    Judge: Government Can Appeal Ruling Allowing Guam’s Cost-Recovery Claim

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 28 granted the federal government’s motion for leave to appeal an Oct. 5 decision denying its motion to dismiss the government of Guam’s claim for cost recovery under Section 107(a) of the a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), explaining that there is substantial ground for a difference of opinion with regard to how the court interpreted a 2004 settlement agreement between Guam and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and whether the agreement allowed Guam to pursue the claim (Government of Guam v. United States, No. 17-cv-2487, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS).

  • March 4, 2019

    Insured’s Motion To Dismiss Umbrella Insurer’s Complaint In Pollution Dispute Denied

    CLEVELAND — An insured city’s umbrella insurers are not necessary and indispensable parties in a suit filed by primary insurers seeking a declaration that their policies’ pollution exclusions bar coverage for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act because not all of the umbrella policies include pollution exclusions that are identical to the exclusions the primary policies, an Ohio federal judge said March 1 in denying the city’s motion to dismiss an intervenor’s complaint filed by one of the city’s umbrella insurers (National Fire Insurance of Hartford, et al. v. Willoughby, No. 17-1392, N.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33045).

  • March 1, 2019

    Judge: Motion To Intervene In Groundwater Contamination Case Denied As Untimely

    DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 28 denied as untimely a motion to intervene in a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) action related to groundwater contamination, the remediation of which is already the subject of a consent decree between a state environmental agency and the company responsible for the contamination (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality v. Ford Motor Co., No. 17-12372, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31703).

  • February 28, 2019

    9th Circuit Upholds Man’s Conviction For Violating Clean Water Act

    SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 19 upheld a man’s conviction for one count of violating the Clean Water Act, holding that the government presented sufficient evidence showing that he was “fully aware” that a vessel he owned was discharging illegal amounts of oil (United States v. Bingham Fox, No. 17-30147, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4786)

  • February 26, 2019

    Insured Says Coverage Owed For Gasoline Released From Alabama Pipeline

    ATLANTA — An insured claims in a Feb. 13 complaint filed in Georgia federal court that its insurer breached its contract in denying coverage under a pollution liability policy for clean-up costs and damages incurred as a result of the release of gasoline from one of the insured’s pipelines (Colonial Pipeline Co. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 19-762, N.D. Ga.).

  • February 22, 2019

    5th Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Oil Spill Claimants’ Suit

    NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 18 found that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when dismissing a lawsuit brought by two claimants seeking economic losses caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010, holding that the plaintiffs released their claims after obtaining payouts from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) (In re:  Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30921, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4734).

  • February 21, 2019

    Debtors Battle Oregon Agency Over Cleanup Costs, Though Settlement Eyed

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy court erred in finding that Chapter 11 debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. are not protected by the automatic stay from environmental cleanup cost state court settlement judgments, the debtors argue Feb. 4 in their opening appeal brief in federal court (Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al. v. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, No. 3:18-cv-507, W.D. N.C.).

  • February 20, 2019

    Baltimore Sues Monsanto, Says Company Liable For PCB Contaminated Stormwater

    BALTIMORE — The mayor and City Council of Baltimore on Feb. 19 sued Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries in Maryland federal court, claiming that the companies are liable for contaminating stormwater and bodies of water in the state with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 19-cv-00483, D. Md.).

  • February 20, 2019

    Judge Finds No Traceability To Injuries In Climate Change Suit

    PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 19 dismissed a lawsuit brought by two minor plaintiffs and an environmental group accusing President Donald Trump and other government officials of contributing to climate change by rolling back environmental regulations, holding that the plaintiffs cannot trace their alleged injuries to the defendants’ actions and that they failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted (Clean Air Council v. United States, et al., No. 17-4977, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25801).

  • February 20, 2019

    Judge Says Gas Company Expert Can Testify On Aerial Photographs Of Mines

    PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A federal judge in Arizona on Feb. 19 ruled that an expert for a gas company seeking contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act from the federal government, U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the cleanup of 19 uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation can proffer testimony based on aerial photographs of the site, ruling that his methodology was reliable and that any challenges to the weight of his testimony can be challenged at trial (El Paso Natural Gas Co. LLC v. United States, No. CV-14-08165-PCT-DGC, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26054).