Contamination

News & Analysis as of

Pierce Atwood Environmental Regulatory Compliance Calendar (RCC)

NEW REGULATORY DEVELOPMENTS - Federal - - Definition of “Waters of the United States” Under the Clean Water Act, 33 C.F.R. Part 328 - - In connection with its proposed rule regarding the definition of...more

Minnesota Federal Court Clarifies Pleading Standard in Vapor Contamination Case

In an opinion that may help clarify the jurisdictional and pleading requirements for plaintiffs seeking damages and injunctive relief for alleged injuries from vapor intrusion, the federal district court in Minnesota denied a...more

EPA Further Delays Hydraulic Fracturing Study as Controversy Builds

EPA’s current estimate of the completion time for a draft of its study of the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) to drinking water is now projected by the agency to be developed in early 2015. This is based on...more

Texas Supreme Court Declines to Address Recovery for Stigma Damages in the Absence of a Permanent Physical Injury to Property

In a closely watched case, the Texas Supreme Court recently declined to address the issue of a right to recover damages for “stigma” in the absence of a permanent physical injury to property. (Houston Unlimited, Inc. v. Mel...more

Environmental Claims: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Asarco LLC v. Goodwin, 756 F.3d 191 (2nd Cir. 2014) – A reorganized company (Asarco) sought contribution for payment of environmental claims from beneficiaries of trusts created under John D. Rockefeller’s will. The...more

Studies Identify Flawed Well Construction (not Fracturing) as Source of Gas Contamination

For the past several years, the rapid growth of oil and natural gas production from shale and other unconventional sources has prompted vocal and often sensationalized concerns regarding the potential for migration of gas...more

PADEP Proposes Tough New Policy for Enforcing Oil and Gas Violations and Responding to Water Contamination Complaints

On October 3, 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“PADEP”) unveiled a new draft policy that would strengthen its compliance and enforcement protocols for both unconventional and conventional oil and...more

NE Supreme Court Issues Insurer-Friendly Decision on the Applicability of the Pollution Exclusion

In interpreting the scope of the pollution exclusion, one question seems to appear in case after case — what exactly does the pollution exclusion exclude? In State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Dantzler, 289 Neb. 1 (2014),...more

Policy Observer - September 2014

All Sums or Pro Rata: Did You Get the Coverage You Bought? In recent decades, liabilities stemming from long-term bodily injury or property damage—as from exposure to asbestos or contamination of the environment—have...more

Studies Identify Flawed Well Construction (not Fracturing) as Source of Gas Contamination: More Questions Posed for Further...

For the past several years, the rapid growth of oil and natural gas production from shale and other unconventional sources has prompted vocal and often sensationalized concerns regarding the potential for migration of gas...more

Aboveground Storage Tank Act Interpretive Rule

This morning, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) filed a proposed interpretive rule (the “Interpretive Rule”) with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s office implementing, in part, the recent...more

Texas Environmental Update

Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania Environmental Health Perspectives, September 10, 2014 - "We conducted a hypothesis...more

NPDES Permits Are Construed Narrowly Against the Permittee

In July, we noted that the Clean Water Act’s permit shield defense would be construed narrowly, applying only where a permittee had clearly disclosed that the relevant pollutant to the agency. This week, in Alaska Community...more

What Triggers Excess Coverage In An Environmental Case: Not Necessarily the Payment of the Full Underlying Policy Limits

More and more excess insurers are taking the position that a policyholder which settles with primary or low level excess insurers for less than the full amount of the policy limits has waived its right to obtain coverage from...more

Texas Supreme Court to Hear Defamation Case Involving Fracking Claims

On August 21, 2014, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to hear oral arguments in an ongoing dispute between a homeowner and Texas-based oil driller Range Resources Corp. The case is not a typical homeowner vs. oil driller...more

5 Rules to Minimize Expert Contamination

Attorneys risk expert contamination when they provide information to an expert about a case. Although you need to discuss the case candidly and openly with your expert, you don’t want to contaminate the expert with...more

If the Suit Fits: A Washington Court Clarifies Triggers for the Duty to Defend

Like many other federal and state environmental laws, Washington’s Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) exposes property owners to strict liability, regardless of fault or intent, for certain types of environmental contamination. ...more

Shots Fired: PA Auditor General Releases Oil and Gas Audit

On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office released a report criticizing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for failing to adequately track and respond to public complaints concerning water quality...more

The EPA, H20, and Fracking: An EPA study of drinking water and hydraulic fracturing could have far-reaching implications for...

As many who work in the oil and gas industry are aware, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pressing forward with a multiyear Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. On...more

Is Selenium the Coal Industry’s Kryptonite? Citizen Groups Obtain Summary Judgment Based on Water Quality Criteria Exceedances

Last week, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition and other NGOs obtained summary judgment that Alex Energy had violated both its NPDES permit and its Surface Mining Permits due to exceedances of the West Virginia water...more

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

A fertilizer plant surrounded by homes, schools, and a hospital. A chemical tank that was externally examined but not drained of liquid for a more thorough inspection. These were some of the factors that contributed to two...more

Supreme Court Rules CERCLA Does Not Preempt State Statute of Repose

In CTS Corp. v. Waldburger, 13-339, 2014 WL 2560466 (U.S. June 9, 2014), the United States Supreme Court held that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as Superfund)...more

Absolute Pollution Exclusions Are Absolute When There Has Been Pollution

Pollution exclusions first became routine in liability policies in the early 1970s. After a decade of often unsuccessful litigation trying to enforce those exclusions, insurers introduced a so called “absolute” pollution...more

Food and Beverage News and Trends

FDA clarifies its stance on cheese making. On June 13, the FDA issued a clarification stating it “does not have a new policy banning the use of wooden shelves in cheese-making, nor is there any requirement in effect...more

Is Death A Defense To CERCLA Liability?

In contrast to the early days of Superfund when no argument for extending CERCLA liability was too far-fetched, the Second Circuit recently rejected one of the all-time “Hail Mary” passes for CERCLA contribution. The case,...more

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