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Panel: EPA Did Not Err When Adding Mine To National Priorities List
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 6 found that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency did not err when adding a company's mine to the National Priorities List (NPL) without first scoring it under the Hazard Ranking System (HRS) because the site is considered an area between sources of contamination that does not need to be scored (Sunnyside Gold Corp. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1417, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 5927).



9th Circuit: CERCLA's Petroleum Exception Bars Woman's Contamination Suit
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 15 upheld a federal judge in California's dismissal with prejudice of a woman's lawsuit accusing Chevron Corp. of contaminating her property, finding that the suit was barred by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act's (CERCLA) petroleum exception (Hong Jacqueline Nguyen Gardner v. Chevron Capital Corp., No. 16-1691, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 7081).



6th Circuit Finds Corporate Successor Not Indirectly Liable For Cleanup Costs
CINCINNATI - The corporate successor to two companies that operated a manufactured gas facility in Florida is not indirectly liable to contribute to a plaintiff company's response costs to clean up groundwater contamination under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 10 in affirming the defendant's award of summary judgment (Duke Energy Florida LLC v. FirstEnergy Corp., No. 17-3024, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8932).



Judge Allocates Liability For Past Cleanup Costs Of Michigan Superfund Site
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on March 29 allocated liability for past response costs of the Kalamazoo River Superfund site among four companies that used polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as part of their manufacturing of carbonless copy paper (CCP) but was unable to determine future response costs or the divisibility of the costs (Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP, et al. v. NCR Corp. et al., No. 11-CV-483, W.D. Mich., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53373).



Judge Says Refineries Can Amend Suit Seeking Cleanup Cost Recovery From Government
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on April 4 dismissed without prejudice a lawsuit brought by the owners of 12 refineries that were in operation during World War II that is seeking to recover cleanup costs from the government after finding that the company can attempt to remedy deficiencies in its suit about the government's liability as an arranger under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (MRP Properties LLC v. United States of America, No. 17-11174, E.D. Mich., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57488).



Judge Finds Parent Company Was An Operator Of Former Metal Processing Site
EL PASO, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on April 9 granted Union Pacific Railroad Co.'s (UPRR) motion for partial summary judgment, finding that sufficient evidence exists showing that the parent company of Oglebay Norton Minerals Inc. (OMNI) was the operator of a former processing site for the purpose of liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Oglebay Norton Minerals Inc., et al., No. EP-17-CV-47-PRM, W.D. Texas, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60019).



Magistrate Denies Motion To Depose Former Lumberyard Owner About Contamination
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal magistrate judge in California on March 19 denied an amended petition filed the current owners of a lumberyard seeking permission to take the deposition of a former owner who claims to have knowledge about other parties who may have contributed to contamination at the Yosemite Slough site in San Francisco, finding that the record does not show that all expected adverse parties were served with the petition (In the Matter of a Petition by Ricci & Kruse Lumber Company, No. 18-mc-80021, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44781).



Mine Owner, Lessee To Pay $20M To Treat Acid Mine Drainage
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - The owner of the Bunker Hill Mine and the lessee of the facility on March 12 agreed to pay $20 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reimburse the agency for money it has spent treating acid mine drainage, cover the future costs of treating the wastewater and resume mining operations after a two-decade hiatus, according to a consent decree filed in Idaho federal court (United States v. Placer Mining Co., et al., No. 04cv126, D. Idaho).



Property Owners Agree To Pay $1.8M To Clean Up 2 Quarries On Superfund Site
PHILADELPHIA - Two companies that own land on a Superfund site outside of Philadelphia on March 23 agreed to pay $1.8 million to reinforce protective caps on two quarries that were contaminated with waste ammonia liquor to use part of the site for residential development, according to a filing in Pennsylvania federal court (United States of America v. Renaissance Land Associates II LP, et al., No. 18-cv-1205, E.D. Pa.).



Judge: EPA Erred When Adopting Water Quality Limit Requiring Trash Removal
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency violated the Clean Water Act when approving the total maximum daily load (TMDL) of trash that can be discharged into the Anacostia River because the limit first required removal of 1.3 million pounds of trash, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled March 30, finding that the agency's decision ran afoul of its own regulations (Natural Resource Defense Council v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1861. D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54266).



2nd Circuit Denies New York Agency's Request To Review Pipeline Approval
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 12 held that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) waived its authority to review a request for water quality certification under the Clean Water Act as part of an application for the construction of a natural gas pipeline because it failed to respond to the application within one year (New York Department of Environmental Conservation v. Federal Regulatory Energy Commission, No. 17-3770-ag, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 6033).



Magistrate Denies California Agency's Motion To Amend Clean Water Act Complaint
OAKLAND, Calif. - The California Environmental Protection Agency cannot amend a lawsuit accusing two companies of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) to add new claims concerning discharges at a different facility, a federal magistrate judge ruled March 9, finding that the new allegations would unnecessarily complicate the case (California Environmental Protection Agency v. Sonoma Soil Builders LLC, et al., No. 15-CV-4880, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39338).



U.S. Steel Agrees To Pay $600,000 Penalty For 2017 Hexavalent Chromium Spills
HAMMOND, Ind. - United States Steel Corp. agreed April 2 to pay a $600,000 civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act as a result of two wastewater spills in 2017 that discharged hexavalent chromium into a waterway that flows into Lake Michigan, according to a consent decree filed in Indiana federal court (United States, et al. v. United States Steel Corp., No. 18-cv-125, N.D. Ind.).



Appeals Court Upholds EPA Rule Addressing Emissions During Startup, Shutdown
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal appeals panel in the District of Columbia on March 15 upheld a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that did not set emissions limits during startup and shutdown periods for industrial boilers, finding that temperature conditions were too variable during those periods (Sierra Club v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1021, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 6534).



14 States, Others Sue EPA For Failure To Curb Methane Emissions From Fracking
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Fourteen states, the District of Columbia and the city of Chicago on April 5 sued the Environmental Protection Agency and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to compel Pruitt to comply with the nondiscretionary duty under federal law to establish guidelines for limiting methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and natural gas sector (New York, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 18-773, D. D.C.).



5th Circuit: Consultants Who Created Fake BP Spill Claimants Were Properly Tried
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 14 held that a federal judge in Mississippi did not err when refusing to hold separate trials for claims brought against two consultants who created fake claimants for benefits under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages settlement, finding that the defendants were not prejudiced by their co-defendants' defenses (United States of America v. Gregory P. Warren, et al., No. 16-60843, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 6352).



5th Circuit: Contractor's Inactivity Did Not Exclude It From BP Settlement Class
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not err when denying a contractor's request for review of a ruling denying its request for compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages settlement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 21, explaining that while the company's inactivity during the compensation period did not preclude it from being a member of the business and economic loss class, it failed to present sufficient documentation showing that it suffered a loss in income (Claimant ID 100187856 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 17-30167, 5th Cir.).



Judge Remands Municipalities' Suits Against Energy Companies Over Climate Change
SAN FRANCISCO- A federal judge in California on March 16 remanded lawsuits brought by a city and two counties accusing sellers of fossil fuels of withholding information about the risks of climate change, holding that their nuisance lawsuits do not raise federal question jurisdiction (San Mateo v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 17-4929, Imperial Beach v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 17-4934, Marin v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 17-04935, N.D. Calif.).



Exxon Mobil's Suit Against 2 Attorneys General Over Climate Change Dismissed
NEW YORK - Exxon Mobil Corp.'s lawsuit claiming that the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts were wrongfully investigating what the company knew about climate change was dismissed March 29 by a federal judge in New York, who found that the allegations were implausible (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Eric T. Schneiderman, et al., No. 17-CV-2301, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54027).



Judge: Groups Have Standing To Bring RCRA Claim, Not Clean Water Act Claim
TRENTON, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on March 27 found that two environmental groups have standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution to bring claims that NL Industries Inc. and others violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by disposing of chemicals into Raritan River and that they failed to produce sufficient evidence to show that the defendants violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging pollutants in levels that exceeded those allowed by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (Raritan Baykeeper, et al. v. NL Industries Ind., et al, No. 09-4117, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52297).



Florida Residents Sue Town For Sludge Dump That Tainted Groundwater With Arsenic
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A group of Florida residents on March 23 filed a putative class action against the city of Fort Myers in Florida federal court, contending that it is liable for the contamination of local groundwater with arsenic (Deretha Miller, et al. v. Fort Myers, et al., No. 18-195, M.D. Fla.).



Pennsylvania High Court: Water Law Not Violated By 'Mere Presence' Of Contaminant
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court on March 28 affirmed a lower court's ruling in a groundwater contamination case and concluded that "the mere presence" of a contaminant "in a water of the Commonwealth or a part thereof" does not establish a violation of Pennsylvania's Clean Streams Law because movement of a contaminant into water is a predicate to violations (EQT Production Company v. Department of Environmental Protection of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, No. 6 MAP 2017, Pa. Sup.; 2018 Pa. LEXIS 1572).



3 Companies Pay $196.5M Combined To Settle MTBE Claims With State Of New Jersey
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal on March 12 announced that three petroleum companies that are defendants in a lawsuit brought by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) will pay a combined $196.5 million to settle claims that they are liable for contaminating the state's groundwater with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, No. 00-1898, MDL 1358, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 08-0312, S.D. N.Y.).



Judge Tosses Couple's Suit Saying Demolition Caused PCB Contamination, Injuries
MADISON, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on March 30 awarded summary judgment to defendants in a lawsuit brought by a couple alleging that demolition of an industrial facility on a nearby property caused their land to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), finding that the plaintiffs failed to produce any evidence to show that the contamination occurred as a result of the demolition (William Liebhart, et al. v. SPX Corp., et al, No. 16-cv-700-jdp, W.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54994).



Judge Denies Monsanto's Motion To Stay Remand Of PCB Suit Pending Appeal
SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on March 23 denied Monsanto Co.'s request to stay the remand of a lawsuit brought by the state seeking damages for contamination caused by the company's manufacture and sale of products containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), finding that the company would not suffer any irreparable harm if the case were allowed to proceed in state court while it is appealing the ruling granting the motion (State of Washington v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. C17-53RSL, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48501).



Home Depot To Pay $27.8M Settlement Over Illegal Storage Of Hazardous Waste
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Home Depot U.S.A. has agreed to pay $27.8 million to resolve allegation brought by the state of California that it violated the Hazardous Waste Control Law (HWCL) and California's unfair competition law (UCL) by illegally storing and disposing of hazardous wastes at its stores and facilities, according to a March 7 filing in California state court (California v. Home Depot U.S.A., No. RG18893251, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).



Panel Majority Says Insurers Breached Contract, Acted In Bad Faith By Failing To Settle
CHICAGO - The majority of the Fifth District Illinois Appellate Court on April 5 affirmed a trial court's ruling that insurers breached their contract and acted in bad faith by refusing to settle underlying environmental contamination claims filed against an insured after determining that the insurers used the threat of denying coverage in an attempt to dissuade the insured from settling the claims (Rogers Cartage Co. et al., v. The Travelers Indemnity Co., No. 5-16-0098, Ill. App., 5th Dist., 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 206).



New York High Court Says No Coverage Due For Time When Insurance Was Unavailable
ALBANY, N.Y. - The New York Court of Appeals on March 27 said that an excess insurer does not owe coverage to its insured for the time periods when the insured was unable to purchase environmental liability insurance coverage in the insurance marketplace because the excess insurer's policies specifically stated that coverage is afforded only for damages occurring during the policy period (KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., et al., No. 20, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 494).



Missouri Federal Judge Says Issues Of Fact Exist As To Whether Coverage Is Owed
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on March 16 rejected an insurer's argument that a premises pollution liability policy requires an actual or existing pollution condition to trigger coverage but found that issues of material fact exist on whether a number of pollution conditions are actually covered under the policy (Sunflower Redevelopment LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. 15-577, W.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43304).



No Coverage Owed For Environmental Cleanup Costs, Federal Judge Says
FRESNO, Calif. - An umbrella liability insurer has no duty to defend its insured against an underlying suit seeking environmental contamination cleanup costs because the policy's pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage for cleanup costs, a California federal judge said March 19 (RLI Insurance Co. v. Visalia, No. 17-1205, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44742).



Government's Request To Dismiss Climate Change Suit Denied by 9th Circuit
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 7 denied a petition for a writ of mandamus seeking reversal of an order denying its motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by 21 individuals accusing the defendants of contributing to climate change, holding that the issues raised would be better addressed through the course of ordinary litigation (United States of America, et al. v. United States District Court for the District of Oregon, No. 17-71692, 9th Cir.).



Judge: Nuisance Claims Against Sellers Of Fossil Fuels Governed By Federal Law
SAN FRANCISCO - Public nuisance claims brought by the residents of San Francisco and Oakland claiming that sellers of fossil fuels knew but concealed the risks of global warming are subject to federal law, a judge in California ruled Feb. 27 in denying the municipalities' motion to remand (People of the State of California v. BP PLC, et al., Nos. 17-06011, 17-06012, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32990).



Appeals Court Amends Ruling Trimming EPA Rule Regulating Sham Recycling
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 6 amended its 2017 ruling that trimmed portions of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that was designed to cut down on "sham recycling" after hearing petitions for rehearing (American Petroleum Institute, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 09-1038, consolidated with 15-1083, 15-1085, 15-1088, 15-1089, 15-1094, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5613).



Judge Trims Waste-Processing Facility's RCRA Claims Against Port District
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 15 found that a waste-processing company could not pursue claims that a port district violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) when constructing piers in the 1960s and 1970s using contaminated materials because the plaintiff did not provide sufficient presuit notification to inform the district about the alleged violations (Clean Harbors Services Inc. v. Illinois International Port District, No. 12-CV-7837, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24583).



5th Circuit Finds No Merit In Challenges To $81M CITGO Penalty
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 14 overruled arguments by the federal government and CITGO Petroleum Corp. to a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling that the company should pay an $81 million civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act following a 2006 oil spill at its Lake Charles facility, finding that they lacked merit (United States of America v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., No. 16-30515, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3392).



EPA's Request To Stay New York Water Quality Standards Suit Denied
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Feb. 20 denied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's motion to stay proceedings in a suit over whether it failed to comply with its requirement under the Clean Water Act to approve or disapprove water quality standards submitted by the state, finding that nine environmental groups would be prejudiced by the delay (Riverkeeper Inc., et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-CV-4916, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26960).



Magistrate Judge Recommends Dismissal Of Clean Water Act Suit Against Mine
DENVER - A federal magistrate judge in Colorado on March 5 recommended dismissal of a lawsuit brought by three individuals and two environmental conservation groups, finding that their notice of intent failed to sufficiently allege that a mining company and its managing member violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Pamela Stone, et al. v. High Mountain Mining Co. LLC, et al., No. 17-cv-01295, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34932).



Land Buyer Cannot Seek Redress By Questioning Consent Decree, 10th Circuit Says
DENVER - The buyer of two remediated parcels of land lacks standing to enforce a consent decree between the federal government and defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) action to obtain a declaration that a defendant company violated the agreement when conveying a railroad right of way during a separate real estate transaction, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb. 23 (United States of America v. Colorado & Eastern Railroad Co., No. 16-1374, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4345).



Navajo Nation, New Mexico Claims Against EPA Contractor Survive Dismissal Bid
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A federal judge on Feb. 12 mostly declined to dismiss claims leveled by the Navajo Nation and state of New Mexico against a company that worked on the Gold King Mine, where a 3-million-gallon spill in 2015 turned rivers yellow with acid mine drainage and 800,000 pounds of heavy metals (State of New Mexico v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-cv-465, Navajo Nation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-cv-931, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22548).



Judge Affirms Denial Of Resident's Intervention Request In Contamination Suit
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Feb. 9 upheld a magistrate judge's ruling denying a motion to intervene filed by nearby residents of a Superfund site, holding that the request, which came two years after a settlement was reached between companies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was untimely (United States of America v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., No. 14-cv-312, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21524).



City Cleared Of Cleanup Liability After Couple Fails To Respond To Motion
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The city of Davis, Calif., was cleared of liability from a couple's request for contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by a federal judge in California on Feb. 6 after the couple failed to respond to the city's motion for summary judgment (Charles H. Lewis, et al. v. Robert D. Russell, et al., No. 03-2646, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532).



Judge Approves New Consent Decree In Cleanup Suit
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on March 1 approved an updated consent decree that requires the operator of a former wood preservation facility to remove contaminated soil from a site where it conducted operations and pay $57,450.38 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for past cleanup costs (California Department of Toxic Substances Control v. Coast Wood Preserving Inc., et al., No. 96-CV-6055, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33782).



Groundwater Plaintiffs: Stay Must Be Reconsidered To 'Prevent Manifest Injustice'
PHILADELPHIA - A group of Pennsylvania residents on March 2 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court arguing that "in order to prevent manifest injustice," the district court should reconsider a previous ruling in the plaintiffs' groundwater contamination lawsuit against a group of chemical companies because "the Plaintiffs are the victims of an indefinite stay . . . for which there is no basis" (Hanah Bates, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-4961, E.D. Pa.).



New Jersey Panel Overrules Groups' Challenge To $225M Exxon Settlement
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appeals court panel on Feb. 12 found that while four environmental groups could appeal a trial court judge's ruling approving a $225 million settlement between the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and Exxon Mobil Corp., the judge did not err when finding that the agreement was reasonable and consistent with the goals of the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, Nos. A-0668-15T1, A-0810-15T1, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2018 N.J. Super. LEXIS 23).



Shell To Pay $10M To Reduce Excessive Emissions From Industrial Flares
NEW ORLEANS - Shell Chemical LP on Feb. 12 entered into a consent decree in Louisiana federal court with the government and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in which the company agreed to spend $10 million to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the use of four industrial flares at its Norco, La., facility (United States of America, et al. v. Shell Chemical LP, No. 18-cv-104, E.D. La.).



Pennsylvania Superior Court Panel Affirms Finding Of No Coverage For Insured
HARRISBURG, Pa. - No coverage is owed for environmental contamination at a number of sites throughout the country because it is not clear that the contamination was caused solely by the insured's operations and the policies at issue provide coverage only for contamination that was caused by the insured's operations, the Pennsylvania Superior Court said Feb. 26 (Consolidated Rail Corp. v. ACE Property & Casualty Insurance Co., et al., No. 1376 EDA 2015, Pa. Super., 2018 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 578).



Federal Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss As It Pertains To Clause In Settlement Agreement
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Feb. 6 denied an insured's motion to dismiss as it pertained to the enforcement of a judgment reduction clause in a settlement agreement regarding a number of environmentally contaminated sites because it pertains to the claims at issue in the contribution suit, which has been pending in the New York federal court since 1984 (Olin Corp. v. Lamorak Insurance Co., et al., No. 84-1968, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20424).



Coverage Barred For Release Of Chlorine Gas, New York Federal Judge Says
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - No coverage is owed to insureds seeking a defense for an underlying suit alleging bodily injury claims caused by the release of chlorine gas from the insureds' scrap metal recycling plant because the policies' absolute pollution exclusion clearly precludes coverage for the underlying suit, a New York federal judge said Feb. 13 (Ben Weitsman & Son of Scranton LLC, et al. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-0780, N.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22970).



1st Circuit: EPA's Approval Of Stormwater Discharge Limits Does Not Require Notice
BOSTON - A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 24 affirmed the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the agency's approval of total maximum discharge limits (TMDLs) of stormwater for bodies of water in Rhode Island and Massachusetts did not trigger a duty to provide notice to potential dischargers (Conservation Law Foundation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 17-1166, 17-1354, 1st Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1734).



9th Circuit Upholds Ruling Finding County Violated Clean Water Act
HONOLULU - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 1 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to five environmental groups, holding that a federal judge did not err when finding that the county of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui, No. 15-1744, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2582).



Salvage Yard's Counterclaim Against Group For Abuse Of Process Dismissed
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed without prejudice an auto salvage yard's counterclaim stating that an environmental group's Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit is an abuse of process, finding that any attorney fees awarded to the group could not be considered an ulterior motive for filing the action (Clean Water Action v. Searles Auto Recycling Corp., No. 16-12067-NMG, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7436).



Judge Adopts Recommendation To Dismiss Third-Party Claims Over Illegal Dumping
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Jan. 18 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss a third-party lawsuit filed by a company accused of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by illegally discharging fill materials into navigable waterways of the United States, finding that the landowner cannot seek contribution under state law because the government is not asserting claims for property damage (United States of America v. David A. Whitehall, et al., No. 14-CV-188, W.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8224).



Lake Michigan Surfer Group Sues U.S. Steel Over Allegedly Illegal Discharges
HAMMOND, Ind. - A nonprofit group comprising people who surf in Lake Michigan sued United States Steel Corp. in Indiana federal court on Jan. 17, claiming that the company is violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging wastewater and storm water that contain contaminants in excess of those allowed by National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (Surfrider Foundation v. United States Steel Corp., No. 18-cv-00020, N.D. Ind.).



Chicago Sues U.S. Steel For Discharging Toxic Chemicals Into Lake Michigan
HAMMOND, Ind. - The city of Chicago on Jan. 24 sued U.S. Steel Corp. in an Indiana federal court, contending that it is liable for "multiple excessive discharges of toxic chemicals" into Lake Michigan, which is the source of drinking water for more than 5 million people and arguing that U.S. Steel has committed "repeated and significant" violations of its permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387 (City of Chicago v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 18-33, N.D. Ind.).



Judge Says CERLCA Commencement Date Applicable In Injury Suit
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.- A federal judge in Georgia on Jan. 23 denied motions for summary judgment filed by two companies arguing that 14 lawsuits for personal injuries and property damage caused by the operation of a pipe-making facility are time-barred, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) commencement date could be applied to the plaintiffs' claims (William Abner v. United States Pipe & Foundry Co., No. 15-cv-02040-KOB, N.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10146).



Judge: Former Owner Of Contaminated Site Must Pay For 75 Percent Of Cleanup
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 16 reduced by $500,000 the amount a company owner can recover for cleaning up a former steel manufacturing site and ruled that the former owner and operator is liable for 75 percent of past and future response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because it has not taken any steps to remediate the contamination and has refused the plaintiff company's requests for assistance (Valbruna Slater Steel Corporation, et al. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Company, et al., No. 10-cv-44-JD, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7063).



Judge: Government, State Can Seek Future Response Costs For Superfund Site
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The federal government and state of Wisconsin can pursue claims for future response costs from a company that has not settled a lawsuit stemming from the remediation of the Lower Fox River Superfund site, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Feb. 5 in granting in part the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10cv910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18408).



Judge: Settlement Cannot Be Enforced Until City Resolves Insurance Dispute
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 2 denied a landowner's motion to enforce a settlement agreement with a city accused of contributing to perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination, finding that the city must first resolve a dispute with its insurance carriers to obtain coverage (Gary Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-CV-1257 AWI BAM, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17769).



Massachusetts High Court Reinstates Association's Contamination Suit Against City
BOSTON - A panel of Massachusetts Supreme Court judges on Jan. 19 reinstated a condominium association's lawsuit against a city that previously used the site as a landfill, finding that the association's lawsuit was timely (Grand Manor Condominium Association v. City of Lowell, No. SJC-12294, Mass. Sup., 2018 Mass. LEXIS 15).



Firm Barred From Filing Summary Judgment Motions In Contamination Dispute
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Jan. 29 banned a private equity firm from filing any future motions for summary judgment absent good cause and leave from the court after denying a motion seeking dismissal of Honeywell International Inc.'s counterclaim for indemnification for the cleanup of benzene and vinyl chloride contamination at a site in Muncie, Ind. (Hammond Kennedy Whitney & Co. Inc. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 16-cv-9808, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13917).



Monsanto Lacks Standing To Assert Counterclaims Over PCB Contamination, Judge Says
SAN DIEGO - Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries lack standing to assert counterclaims for response costs, defense costs and contingent liability, a federal judge in California ruled Jan. 30, finding that costs incurred in defending a lawsuit over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination do not constitute an injury-in-fact (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14996).



Bankruptcy Judge Abstains From Hearing Injunction Bid For Environmental Claims
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 26 abstained from deciding a request by former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc. to enforce its reorganization plan injunction to bar indemnification claims for cleanup of a polluted industrial site, saying a state court is "fully capable of adjudicating" the claims and G-I's injunction bid (In re: G-I Holdings, Inc., et al., Nos. 01-30135 and 01-38790, D. N.J. Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 214).



Winemaker Agrees To Pay $330,000 For Deadly Ammonia Leak
FRESNO, Calif. - Gibson Wine Co. on Jan. 29 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in which it said it would pay a $330,000 civil penalty and spend $300,000 to make improvements to its facility following a deadly leak of anhydrous ammonia at its Sanger, Calif., site (United States of America v. Gibson Wine Co., No. 15-cv-1900, E.D. Calif.).



New York High Court To Decide If Coverage Due For Time No Insurance Was Available
ALBANY, N.Y. - After hearing oral arguments on Feb. 6, the New York Court of Appeals is set to decide whether an excess insurer owes coverage to its insured for the time periods when the insured was unable to purchase environmental liability insurance coverage even if the excess insurer's policies specifically stated that coverage is afforded only for damages occurring during the policy period (KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., et al., No. APL-2016-00236, N.Y. App.).



Federal Judge Denies Motion To Strike In Contamination Coverage Dispute
TOLEDO, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Jan. 9 denied a motion to strike a deposition in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that the insurers and the insureds agreed to extend the discovery deadline for the deposition to a time outside of the discovery deadline set by the court (Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. et al., v. FFP Holdings LLC et al., No. 15-377, N.D. Ohio, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3810).



No Coverage Due For Clean Air Act Violations, New York Panel Says
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - The Fourth Department New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Feb. 2 determined that a trial court properly found that no coverage is owed under professional liability and environmental professional liability policies for a criminal action filed against an insured and arising out of alleged violation of the Clean Air Act because the criminal action does not constitute a suit for which coverage is provided (Certified Environmental Services Inc. v. Endurance America Insurance Co., et al., No. 1510 CA 17-01125, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 4th Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 704).



Missouri Appeals Panel Says No Coverage Afforded For Release Of Methane Gas
ST. LOUIS - The Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals on Dec. 19 affirmed that no coverage exists for the release of methane gas caused by an insured's remediation of a landfill site because the release did not occur during the effective policy coverage period (Hazelwood Logistics Center LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. ED105571, Mo. App., Eastern Div., Div. 1, 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 1328).