EPA Federal Superfund Sites
Roughly half of our work is on major Superfund sites, initiated by notice from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA, often referred to as Superfund). Superfund sites typically involve scores to hundreds of parties, with many millions of dollars at stake. In the past, many such sites have been hazardous waste dumps and landfills. Increasingly the EPA is targeting contaminated urban harbors. We have extensive experience in these and other types of Superfund sites. Over the past 35 years we have represented major parties in the largest hazardous waste dump sites and landfills in the Northwest. Currently we represent or advise numerous individuals and businesses on the Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site in Seattle, the Commencement Bay Superfund Site in Tacoma, and the Portland Harbor Superfund Site in Portland.
CERCLA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and other federal and state laws determine the liability of parties for contaminated property, and how the parties must respond. It is important that individuals and businesses responding to potential Superfund issues and liability work with an attorney who has experience and understanding of these environmental laws, and how they fit together. At Davis Law we have that experience and understanding.
Superfund Liability Response, Litigation and Risk Management
Our clients are often businesses or individuals who own or operate, or are considering purchasing, property that is in or near a Superfund site. We advise and represent current owners and operators in managing environmental risk and responding to environmental liability. This can involve a combination of actions, including contacting insurers to be sure that they provide coverage and protection to which our clients are entitled, pursuing contribution claims against other responsible parties, defending actions that are brought against our clients, and participating in mediation, arbitration or allocation of liability.
We advise parties considering purchasing property near Superfund sites on the environmental risks, and ways to minimize or shift such risks. We frequently assist or accept referrals from other attorneys who have clients in similar situations, but who might not have the environmental law focus necessary to respond to Superfund issues.
Section 104(e) Requests
One of the most common ways that individuals and businesses first come into contact with the EPA is receipt of an information request under Section 104(e) of CERCLA. It is very important that parties are careful, and obtain representation, in responding to 104(e) requests. The responses will provide the information on which the EPA bases its determination whether to identify someone as a Potentially Responsible Party (PRP), usually through a General Notice Letter. If you receive such a letter, you are likely to become a party to a lawsuit under Superfund if you do not resolve your liability with the EPA, often at substantial cost. At Davis Law we prepared our first 104(e) response in 1984, not long after the EPA first began issuing 104(e) requests. Since that time we have represented many clients responding to countless 104(e) requests at Superfund sites throughout the Northwest.
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