Practice Areas & Industries: Husch Blackwell LLP

 




Environmental Remediation and Superfund Return to Practice Areas & Industries

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Practice/Industry Group Overview

Thirty years after the enactment of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), environmental remediation sites continue to pose significant management challenges for our clients. On one hand, cost-containment requires that lawyers and clients not reinvent the wheel at remediation sites. On the other hand, business as usual can overlook opportunities to avoid or recover costs through innovative approaches.

Our Environmental Remediation and Superfund team has represented clients at over 200 significant remediation sites throughout the U.S. We have achieved numerous favorable results for our clients, with national implications, as a result of negotiations or litigation involving the EPA, DOJ, state agencies or third parties. These results range from brownfield development and sale of formerly contaminated property, obtaining no action letters from EPA, successful dispositive motions, cost-recovery and contribution judgments in favor of clients, and environmental insurance recoveries. We have been successful in assisting the EPA and DOJ in expanding the base of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) at a site, in bringing the U.S. into sites as a PRP, and in recovering substantial sums for clients in innovative ways.

Once our client commences environmental response activities under the terms of an Administrative Consent Order or judicial Consent Decree, they are, in essence, running a business at the site. Based on our nationwide experience at remediation sites for more than 25 years, we provide practical and strategic advice concerning the myriad of issues that can arise at such sites. This advice includes negotiating cleanup agreements with federal and state agencies and third parties; negotiation of access issues that significantly impact liability and cost; strategic remedy revision; advice on regulatory compliance matters; decision-making within the context of ongoing litigation (including toxic tort suits); coordination with public relations professionals; and identification of cost recovery opportunities.

Representative Projects

  • Representation of clients at Superfund and state-lead remediation sites, as sole PRP, principal PRP, one of many PRPs or de minimis PRP
  • Obtained ruling of EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board that client was not liable as an arranger under CERCLA §107(a)(3), and awarded client reimbursement from the Superfund for costs incurred in responding to a unilateral order under CERCLA §106 
  • Obtained district court ruling that potentially responsible parties may bring cost recovery actions under CERCLA §107 
  • Obtained district court ruling that client could suspend its obligations under a CERCLA Consent Decree based upon conduct of EPA found to be a repudiation of the Consent Decree 
  • Obtained district court ruling upholding contribution protection in private party CERCLA settlements 
  • Defeated CERCLA arranger liability claims at transformer recycling sites by establishing that our clients were sellers of useful products 
  • Achieved settlements at two National Priorities List (NPL) sites assessing substantial contribution shares against the U.S. government as a PRP 
  • Contribution litigation at several Superfund sites resulting in substantial reduction of client’s proposed allocation 
  • Added hundreds of additional PRPs to an oil recycling site, followed by settlements through a voluntary allocation process 
  • Supported successful brownfield development at property located at or adjacent to Superfund sites