Archives: CERCLA/RCRA

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D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Portions of the RCRA Definition of Solid Waste Rule

On July 7, 2017, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision striking down portions of US EPA’s Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) Rule, which defines when certain hazardous secondary materials (i.e. recyclable materials generated as the remainder of industrial processes) become “discarded” and thus subject to regulation as a solid waste.  The Rule, … Continue Reading

Squire Patton Boggs Helps Secure a Victory for the State of Colorado at the US Supreme Court

On June 26, the US Supreme Court denied New Mexico’s petition seeking to institute an original action against Colorado for the 2015 Gold King Mine spill. An original action in the US Supreme Court is a lawsuit between states. Invoking that rarely used procedure, New Mexico sought to hold Colorado liable for the Gold King Mine spill.  … Continue Reading

Superfund Financial Assurance Rules: Chemical, Coal, Petroleum & Electric Power Industries Face Upcoming US EPA Rulemaking

On December 1, 2016, the US EPA Administrator signed two documents about financial assurance – effectively bonding for facility cleanup – under Superfund for several industry sectors. The longer document with the shorter deadline concerned the hard rock mining and mineral processing industries, proposing specific costly rules, on which comments are due around March 13.  … Continue Reading

Asbestos-Containing Materials: A Non-Scope Consideration Worth Investigating During Environmental Due Diligence

A common question that arises when performing environmental due diligence on commercial real estate is the degree to which the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) should be investigated.  In the case of ACMs, “what you don’t know can hurt you” and, therefore, the old axiom of “less is more” does not apply.  This is especially true regarding asbestos not only … Continue Reading

Involved with US Export and Import of Hazardous Waste? New Requirements Are Coming

On November 28, 2016, US EPA published its Final Rule revising the requirements applicable to the export and import of hazardous wastes to and from the United States.  The changes enacted by US EPA make three significant revisions to existing regulations by: Aligning existing export and import related requirements with the current import-export requirements for … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Rules Smelter Emissions Are Not a CERCLA Disposal

The Ninth Circuit’s recent opinion in Pakootas v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., addressed whether, “[w]hen a smelter emits lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury compounds through a smokestack and those compounds contaminate land or water downwind, . . . the owner-operator of the smelter [can] be held liable for cleanup costs and natural resource damages under … Continue Reading

When to Consider “Non-Scope Considerations” in Environmental Due Diligence

Performing thorough environmental due diligence for commercial and industrial property acquisitions requires consideration of diverse risks to a prospective purchaser. Such diligence generally includes a Phase I environmental site assessment performed under ASTM Standard Practice E1527-13 (ASTM E1527-13), which is designed to investigate the possibility of hazardous substance or petroleum product releases at a commercial property—the presence of which … Continue Reading

Despite Best Efforts, US EPA Faces 2016 Deadline for New Financial Assurance Rules

US EPA has agreed to promulgate financial assurance rules for hard rock mining companies by December 1, 2017.  Specifically, the agencies requirements will apply to facilities which extract or process metals (e.g., copper, gold, iron, lead, magnesium, molybdenum, silver, uranium, and zinc).  The financial assurance requirements will obligate companies performing environmental cleanup to provide a … Continue Reading

US EPA Proposes to Include Vapor and Other Subsurface Intrusions Component to NPL Hazard Ranking System

US EPA may make a significant change to the Hazard Ranking System, the system utilized to determine which sites are eligible for inclusion on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).  (See the proposed rule here.)  Currently, the Hazard Ranking System evaluates four exposure pathways when determining eligibility:  ground water migration, soil exposure, surface water migration, … Continue Reading

The Air (Emissions) of Spring May Soon Give Rise to Unprecedented CERCLA Liability

As 2015 came to a close, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals quietly notified the parties in a decades-long environmental dispute that, in April 2016, the court will hear arguments in a case that could reshape CERCLA liability forever.  The basis for the pending appeal is a district court order holding that air emissions could … Continue Reading

Republicans and Democrats Push for Hardrock Mining Reform in the Wake of Colorado Mine Spill

Congress is moving quickly on multiple fronts in response to the August 2015 spill at the abandoned Gold King Mine in Colorado.  Republicans in the House held a hearing on a package of mining reform bills proposed by Rep. Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Hice (R-GA), and Rep. Hardy (R-NV) that would, respectively, promote private sector remediation … Continue Reading
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