Archives: Solid & Hazardous Waste

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US EPA’s Superfund Task Force Recommendations May Expedite Cleanup and Reuse Process for Contaminated Sites

Shortly after being confirmed as the new US EPA Administrator, Scott Pruitt appointed a Superfund Task Force to review the approximately 1,300 Superfund sites in the United States and make recommendations on how to improve and restructure the cleanup process. Administrator Pruitt observed that “many of these sites have been listed as Superfund sites for decades, … Continue Reading

Enforcement of UK Waste Exemptions – No Longer the Light Touch?

Registered waste exemptions are not to be treated lightly and compliance with their conditions is not flexible, as the Environment Agency has reinforced in a recent case.  A lengthy investigation culminating in a nearly £20,000 fine has been handed down by Chelmsford Magistrates Court in relation to illegal deposits of waste on farmland in Essex. … Continue Reading

Increased Risk of Clean-Up Liability for Owners of Closed Council Landfill Sites in England and Wales

A recent Court of Appeal case, Powys County Council v Price and Hardwick, has addressed the issue of liability of successor public authorities under the UK contaminated land regime (Part 2A Environmental Protection Act 1990) (“Part 2A”). The case related to a landfill site that had been operated by local authorities of the county of … Continue Reading

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

What Happened to US EPA’s New Source Performance Standards and Emission Guidelines for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills?

In 2016, US EPA finalized two rules designed to reduce methane and non-methane organic compound emissions from landfills.  These rules were adopted as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions.  US EPA issued final New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) to reduce emissions caused by landfill gas from new, modified and reconstructed municipal solid waste (MSW) … Continue Reading

Successor Local Authorities May Be Liable Under the UK Contaminated Land Regime

The recent decision of the High Court in Price and Hardwicke v Powys County Council determined that a local authority may acquire potential liability under the contaminated land regime (“CLR”) from its statutory predecessor, notwithstanding that the CLR did not enter into force until over 5 years after the transfer of liabilities took place.… 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

US EPA Issues Significant New Use Rule for TCE in Consumer Products

On April 8, 2016, US EPA issued a final significant new use rule (“SNUR”) for trichloroethylene (“TCE”). The TCE SNUR requires anyone manufacturing, importing or processing TCE for use in a consumer product to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing any such manufacturing, importation or processing. The SNUR expressly exempts the use of … Continue Reading

Brexit – What are the implications for UK environmental law and policy?

The topic of the moment in the UK is whether Brexit will be a good or a bad thing for the UK, and it seems to be polarising the nation. Stepping away from the political rhetoric and posturing, it is worth reflecting on some of the more practical issues arising from a UK exit from … 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

Don’t Flush: New Rule for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals Proposed for US Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities take note: US EPA recently issued a proposed rule for outlining management and disposal standards for hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are generated specifically by healthcare facilities. The proposed rule addresses the “regulation of the reverse distribution mechanism used by healthcare facilities for the management of unused and/or expired pharmaceuticals” and aims to “strengthen environmental … Continue Reading

Reforming the offence of Public Nuisance

Introduction Five years after originally consulting the public, the Law Commission has recently published its report on reforming the common law criminal offences of public nuisance and outraging public decency.  This note focuses on the proposed reforms to the offence of public nuisance. Public nuisance is unusual in so far as it is both a … Continue Reading

US District Court Holds CERCLA Displaces Federal Common Law Public Nuisance Claims

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Washington recently held in Anderson v. Teck Metals, Ltd. that CERCLA displaces federal common law claims for public nuisance based upon the standard for displacement set out by the US Supreme Court in American Elec. Power Co., Inc. v. Connecticut and the Ninth Circuit in Native Village of Kivalina v. Exxon … Continue Reading

Environmental Regulation and Nanotechnology in the UK and EU: Challenges, Risks and Rewards

What is Nanotechnology? Nanotechnology is a generic term used to describe the design, engineering, production and use of substances and materials at the nanoscale (1 nanometre representing 1 billionth of a metre).  To illustrate, one sheet of standard paper is approximately 100,000 nanometres thick and one nanometre is roughly how long a human fingernail will … Continue Reading

Use of civil sanctions for UK environmental permitting finally ‘sanctioned’!

As we reported in June 2015, the use of civil sanctions have applied to a range of environmental offences since June 2011, with the notable omission of environmental permitting offences under the Environmental Permitting (England & Wales) Regulations 2010 (EPR), which account for a relatively large amount of prosecution activity by the Environment Agency (EA).  … Continue Reading

RCRA “Disposal” Does Not Extend to Emissions Directly into the Air Per US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

On August 20, 2014, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a suit brought by environmental groups against Union Pacific Corp. and BNSF Railway Co., holding that the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) does not authorize a citizen suit to enjoin the emission of diesel particulate matter as it … Continue Reading

CERCLA Article by Christopher Thomas of Squire Patton Boggs in Arizona State Law Journal Previews Key Legal Issues Expected Under the US Statute

Squire Patton Boggs’ Attorney Christopher D. Thomas recently authored an article addressing the crucial legal issues CERCLA practitioners can expect will be at the front and center of hazardous substance litigation in the next several years. The law review article was first published by Arizona State Law Journal, Volume 46, Special Issue and is available here.… Continue Reading

US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit Preserves CERCLA Contribution Protection Despite Tolling Agreement

In Asarco v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 15285 (8th Cir. 2014), the Eighth Circuit affirmed the lower court  in Asarco LLC v. Union Pac. R.R. Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108852 (D. Neb. Aug. 2, 2013), dismissing the contribution, breach of contract, and declaratory judgment claims brought by Asarco against Union Pacific … Continue Reading

Sixth Circuit Follows Suit on CERCLA Contribution/Cost Recovery Claims, Underscores the Importance of Settlement Language

On July 14, the Sixth Circuit joined five other Circuits in holding that parties who have settled their Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) claims with the government are foreclosed from seeking cost recovery from other potentially responsible parties (PRPs) under CERCLA § 107.  In Hobart Corp. v. Waste Management of Ohio, Inc., … Continue Reading

US Supreme Court Holds CERCLA Does Not Preempt State Statutes of Repose

The US Supreme Court has again reiterated that the federal Superfund law should be interpreted narrowly and plainly, this time while addressing the statute’s impact on state tort theories arising from releases of hazardous substances.   In CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, the Court held that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) does not preempt … Continue Reading

US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Decides A CERCLA “Judicially Approved Settlement” Is Not Different In Bankruptcy

On July 23, in ASARCO LLC v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, et al. No. 13-1435 (10th Cir.), the Tenth Circuit rejected the notion that settlement requirements are different in the bankruptcy context.  Section 113 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. §9613, provides a statutory right of contribution for any party … Continue Reading

UK Sentencing Council Definitive Guidelines for Environmental Offences – The Shape of Things to Come?

The recent decision in R v Southern Water Services Limited (2014) has seen the Court of Appeal take a very firm stance against a utilities provider, upholding a fine of £200,000 following a conviction under regulation 38 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 (the ‘2010 Regulations’) for discharging untreated sewage into the … Continue Reading
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