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United States v. Dixie Carriers, Inc.

Citation: 10 ELR 20935
No. No. 79-3043, 627 F.2d 736/15 ERC 1017/(5th Cir., 10/10/1980) Aff'd

The court rules that the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) provides the exclusive remedy for the recovery of oil spill cleanup costs. Following a spill from appellee's barge, it conducted cleanup efforts only until its expenditures reached its maximum liability under § 311 of the FWPCA. The government sought to recover its own cleanup costs under § 311(f)(1), § 407 of the Refuse Act, and under theories of public nuisance and maritime tort for negligence. Affirming the district court, 9 ELR 20250, the court finds that since § 311(f)(1) allows only limited recovery of the government's cleanup costs under a strict liability theory, and unlimited recovery only if it can prove willful negligence, Congress intended the FWPCA to preclude recovery by the government under other legal theories. Additional recovery under the Refuse Act would be inconsistent with the FWPCA because it would provide the government with unlimited recovery under a strict liability theory directly contrary to § 311(f)(1). Additional recovery for negligence or public nuisance would similarly be inconsistent with the FWPCA.

Counsel for Appellant
Allen van Emmerik
Civil Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 724-7290

Counsel for Appellee
Frederick William Bradley
Liskow & Lewis
50th Floor, 1 Shell Square, New Orleans LA 70139
(504) 581-7979

Before THORNBERRY, ANDERSON and THOMAS A. CLARK, Circuit Judges.