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SUPERFUND

CERCLA Contribution Litigation 

Recently, we successfully defended a Fortune 500 company in two separate multi-party CERCLA contribution actions brought by Asarco LLC to recover approximately $240 million in cleanup costs and natural resource damages paid by Asarco to the United States, several states and natural resource damage trustees as a result of settlements entered into by Asarco during the Asarco bankruptcy. On behalf of our client, Thompson Coburn filed a summary judgment motion in one of the cases, and then entered into intense negotiations that resulted in an extremely favorable settlement, dismissal of both lawsuits, and an agreement that the plaintiff would not file any similar lawsuits against the client anywhere in the country. The entire matter, as to Thompson Coburn’s client, was commenced and resolved in less than one calendar year.

CERCLA Cost Recovery and Defense 

We defended a former owner of a nuclear fuels processing facility that is undergoing decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) under the supervision of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The current owner (Westinghouse) attempting, in a CERCLA action, to recover its D&D costs from our client, a small number of other prior owners and the United States (under the theory that the United States owned the uranium processed at the site). Our client (and its co-defendants) prevailed on a partial summary judgment motion regarding the plaintiff’s Section 113 claims and on motions to dismiss the plaintiff’s common law counts. We also assisted in settling related cases and numerous claims asserted by nearby property owners relating to contaminated groundwater allegedly associated with the facility. In a separate action, our client, along with other co-defendants, successfully intervened in an effort by Westinghouse to enter into a CERCLA consent decree with a state agency in federal court . The state, in the proposed consent decree, attempted to assert regulatory authority over contamination and cleanup activities that are within the sole jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under the Atomic Energy Act. The decree was an attempt by Westinghouse to create a CERCLA Section 113(f)(3)(b) claim. The court rejected the consent decree and ruled that activities agreed to with the state environmental agency were in fact preempted by the Atomic Energy Act and beyond the powers of the state agency. 

In a separate action, our client, along with other co-defendants, successfully intervened in an effort by Westinghouse to enter into a CERCLA consent decree with a state agency in federal court . The state, in the proposed consent decree, attempted to assert regulatory authority over contamination and cleanup activities that are within the sole jurisdiction of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under the Atomic Energy Act. The decree was an attempt by Westinghouse to create a CERCLA Section 113(f)(3)(b) claim. The court rejected the consent decree and ruled that activities agreed to with the state environmental agency were in fact preempted by the Atomic Energy Act and beyond the powers of the state agency.

Cost Recovery Claims

In a case filed in United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, we defended a large food manufacturer against a third party petition for cleanup and response costs and punitive damages for environmental contamination from chlorinated solvents (TCE). We obtained summary judgment in favor of our client.

“No Action” Letters from EPA at a PCB Site 

We represented two parties in obtaining "no action" letters from the EPA and assisted several other parties successfully by proving eligibility for de minimis settlements. We also drafted one of the country's first Mixed Funding proposals.

Dismissal of Government’s CERCLA Claims 

We prevailed over the United States Department of Justice on a motion to dismiss on the basis that an Illinois land trustee was not an “owner” within the meaning of the liability provisions of CERCLA, notwithstanding that it held legal title to a portion of an NPL listed Superfund site. The case was one of first impression.

Prospective Purchaser Agreement 

We successfully negotiated a Prospective Purchase Agreement with EPA Region IX and the United States Department of Justice to assist our client in limiting environmental liability exposure arising from the purchase of a business located in the San Gabriel Valley National Priorities List Superfund Site. Contaminants of concern were various volatile organic compounds (VOC), such as trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). The agreement was one of the first of its kind in that it applied to leased property and the effective date of the agreement was made retroactive to the date of the transaction closing because the acquisition had to close prior to the expiration of EPA’s public comment period.

River Superfund Action 

We are currently representing a client with regard to a major river Superfund site. A primary contaminant of concern at the site is PCBs. The matter involves numerous PRPs, as the USEPA has issued several hundred General Notice Letters concerning the site. The PRPs and the Agency are currently working through a complex RI/FS process. Moreover, public records indicate that some believe that the cleanup costs at the site may exceed $1 Billion. The matter also involves a Natural Resource Damages claim.

Public Funds for Remediation of Chloroform and Carbon Tetrachloride 

We represented a major PRP in negotiations with EPA Region VII, a midwestern state and city within that state, which resulted in agreements to conduct a cleanup funded, in part, by $3.5 to $5 million of public monies generated through tax increment financing (TIF). This Superfund cleanup financing arrangement was one of the first of its kind in the nation. We also drafted legislation that amended the state TIF statute in order to maximize the funding available. When another of the primary PRPs at the site became insolvent, we negotiated a buyout deal with the city, which included the city assuming all the cleanup obligations in exchange for a “cash-out” payment associated with a reverse osmosis water treatment plant which the city wanted to build.

Intervention in EPA Rule-Making 

We represented a client in its successful intervention in an EPA rule-making proceeding that sought to list the its research park development as part of a National Priorities List (NPL) Superfund site. The site was listed on the NPL because of radioactive waste (uranium and radium), nitroaromatic compounds, trichloroethylene (TCE) and nitrates from this former nuclear and ordnance production facility. The client had already invested millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements. When EPA proposed the site for listing on the NPL, all leasing and development activity came to a halt. We helped the client develop and implement a successful strategy to demonstrate the research park was not contaminated and to convince USEPA that the research park should be excluded from the NPL listing. As a result of the effort, development and leasing re-commenced and, today, the research park is fully leased.

Publications

EPA announces ‘adjacent’ under Clean Air Act now limited to physical proximity

Uh-oh, y’all: EPA’s action against ‘Fixer Upper’ stresses importance of lead paint rules

The Cleaning Product Right to Know Act of 2017: California’s newest warning requirements

5 points to remember before relying on the EPA’s new NSR guidance on projected future emissions

EPA Regional Counsel and MDNR General Counsel discuss environmental enforcement under new administrations

What to do when the government comes calling: A checklist for handling facility inspections

Environmental deregulation under President Trump: Business as usual?

5 tips for environmental due diligence in business transactions

New circuit split raises questions about ‘permit shield’ defense in Clean Water Act cases

EPA reveals first 10 chemicals to be reviewed under a more robust toxic substances act

Missouri Supreme Court resets the rules for collecting leaking underground storage tank cleanup costs in litigation

Do you need a Section 404 permit for your real estate development?

Former head of OSHA discusses workplace injury policies, DOJ enforcement

Missouri municipal entities must follow statutorily-required steps before executing settlement agreements

DOJ shifts enforcement of worker safety violations to Environmental Crimes Section

Chemical Safety Board investigator outlines discoveries from West Fertilizer, Charleston water incidents

Supreme Court overturns EPA’s 'Tailoring Rule,' upholds GHG BACT for 'anyway' sources

Top Region 7 attorney details EPA’s biggest enforcement, compliance priorities

Blog Posts

Downstream drama: Iowa utility can’t recover damages from county drainage districts

No-GMOs are a no-go in Oregon and Hawaii

9th Circuit sends herbicide debate back to the EPA

Can the California A.G. limit those incessant Prop 65 lawsuits?

News

Peter Strassner talks to Best Lawyers about Thompson Coburn’s environmental practice

Thompson Coburn earns 11 national top-tier rankings in U.S. News 2019 ‘Best Law Firms’ survey

Thompson Coburn’s Environmental practice group celebrates top rankings

Congratulations to our 14 ‘Lawyers of the Year’ for 2019

Barry Klinckhardt, Susan Myers among 2018 Corporate Counsel Award winners

Crystal Kennedy inducted into the Commercial Real Estate Hall of Fame

Thompson Coburn earns 12 national top-tier rankings in U.S. News ‘Best Law Firms’ survey

Ryan Russell Kemper named to St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list

Congratulations to our 2017 ‘Lawyers of the Year’

Ryan Russell Kemper to head United Way fundraising effort

23 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2016 Chambers USA

Eric Boyd hosts discussion with retired EPA official to kick off Clean Air Act seminar

25 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2015 Chambers USA

Congratulations to our 15 St. Louis ‘Lawyers of the Year’

112 Thompson Coburn attorneys featured in 2015 Best Lawyers list

Real Estate Group retains a top ranking in 2014 Best of the Best Survey

St. Louis Business Journal covers Thompson Coburn’s work on unique Superfund settlement

Chemical Safety Board investigator shares insights from two high-profile environmental incidents

27 Thompson Coburn attorneys recognized in 2014 Chambers USA

Ryan Kemper, Thompson Coburn environmental practice featured in St. Louis Lawyer

EPA, Boys & Girls Club announce $30 million cleanup of Superfund site

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater St. Louis honors Thompson Coburn for pro bono work on Superfund cleanup site

Eric E. Boyd joins Thompson Coburn's Environmental Group

Thompson Coburn attorneys to collaborate with St. Louis City Counselor’s office on problem properties

Real Estate group supports $51 million apartment complex purchase

19 Thompson Coburn partners named 2013 St. Louis Lawyers of the Year

Paul Sonderegger appointed chair of environmental law committee for St. Louis bar

Thompson Coburn wins Illinois Supreme Court victory for ExxonMobil Coal

Peter Strassner named St. Louis Environmental Lawyer of the Year

Partner
Chicago
312 580 2214

Eric represents clients in litigation, regulatory compliance, and transaction matters with respect to all of the major environmental programs.

Eric represents clients in litigation, regulatory compliance, and transacti...

Eric Boyd
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6448

As a litigator with the Environmental Group, Tim is dedicated to achieving client goals in complex environmental disputes and regulatory matters.

As a litigator with the Environmental Group, Tim is dedicated to achieving ...

Tim Briscoe
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6112

Sara defends clients in a variety of environmental litigation and regulatory enforcement matters.

Sara defends clients in a variety of environmental litigation and regulator...

Sara Chamberlain
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6019

Ed has substantial experience in a wide range of complex lawsuits, most of which involve multi-party environmental litigation.

Ed has substantial experience in a wide range of complex lawsuits, most of ...

Ed Cohen
Associate
St. Louis
314 552 6520

Lisa advocates for clients facing complex product liability and personal injury litigation.

Lisa advocates for clients facing complex product liability and personal in...

Lisa DeBord
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6166

Joe is an experienced environmental law counselor who provides actionable, common-sense advice to clients on a wide array of regulatory and litigation issues.

Joe is an experienced environmental law counselor who provides actionable, ...

Joe Kellmeyer
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6321

Ryan is a problem-solver who works to create opportunities for clients dealing with environmental and energy issues, property disputes, commercial litigation, and governm...

Ryan is a problem-solver who works to create opportunities for clients deal...

Ryan Russell Kemper
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6168

Crystal has 30+ years of national environmental experience and leads the transactional area of the Firm's environmental practice.

Crystal has 30+ years of national environmental experience and leads the tr...

Crystal Kennedy
Sr Advisor, Environment, Health and Safety
St. Louis
314 552 6467

As Thompson Coburn's Senior Advisor, Environment, Health and Safety, Max provides technical support on remediation and groundwater contamination matters, acquisitions, re...

As Thompson Coburn's Senior Advisor, Environment, Health and Safety, Max pr...

Max McCombs
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6154

Paul is a highly effective litigator and regulatory compliance attorney who has resolved environmental and real estate/construction disputes in state and federal courts a...

Paul is a highly effective litigator and regulatory compliance attorney who...

Paul Sonderegger
Partner
St. Louis
314 552 6109

Peter is a nationally recognized environmental attorney who helps companies respond to major environmental incidents, navigate regulatory actions, and successfully resolv...

Peter is a nationally recognized environmental attorney who helps companies...

Peter Strassner