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United States v. Union Elec. Co.

Citation: 28 ELR 20503
No. No. 96-3653, 132 F.3d 422/(8th Cir., 12/23/1997)

The court holds that a district court did not abuse its discretion when it approved a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) consent decree requiring settling potentially responsible parties (PRPs) to pay some of the remediation costs at the Missouri Electrical Works Superfund site. The court first rejects the nonsettling intervenor PRPs' claim that, because the consent decree's cost allocation formula does not fairly apportion liability, they were prevented from joining the consent decree. The intervenors are not bound by the allocation formula. They are free to negotiate a separate settlement agreement with EPA who, at the time of oral argument in the case, remained open to such a possibility. Similarly, if the government brings future action against the intervenors seeking recovery of costs, the intervenors will not be bound by the allocation formula and will be free to contest their liability and their share of liability. Moreover, the district court's published opinion thoroughly discusses the consent decree's fairness, reasonableness, and consistency with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. In addition, the court holds that the district court did not err in refusing the intervenors' request for an evidentiary hearing.

[Prior decisions in this litigation are published at 25 ELR 20432, 26 ELR 20188, and 27 ELR 20190.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Michael McNulty
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Defendant
John F. Cowling
Armstrong & Teasdale
One Metropolitan Sq., Ste. 2600, St. Louis MO 63102
(314) 621-5070

Before Bowman and Arnold, JJ.