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Volume 15, Issue 7 — July 1985


The Second Chem-Dyne Settlement

by David B. Graham

Editors' Summary: Of the major pathways now being followed in the implemetation of hazardous waste cleanups under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), several have been charted at one site, Chem-Dyne Corporation's Hamilton, Ohio facility. Chem-Dyne was the subject of the first multi-party CERCLA negotiation, in which state and federal agencies squared off against hundreds of companies whose wastes allegedly cluttered the site. It was the subject of the first court ruling on the lynchpin of the federal government's legal theory about liability under CERCLA—that waste generators are jointly and severally liable. In June 1985, Chem-Dyne became the subject of one of the first settlements governing soil removal and groundwater purification at a multi-generator site. Mr. Graham, who has been intimately involved in the Chem-Dyne proceedings from the first, describes the avenues by which the governments and generators reached the second settlement. He argues for a surface-cleanup-first approach to major CERCLA cases, and recommends that potentially responsible parties and government agencies take a more cooperative stance so as to avoid litigation, which costs millions and delays cleanup.


A Defense Counsel's Perspective on Superfund

by Alfred R. Light

Editors' Summary: In April 1985, ELR published an article by Thomas Ulen, Mark Hester, and Gary Johnson arguing that the Minnesota state version of Superfund and similar laws embodied responsible, cost-effective approaches to hazardous waste problems and that liabilities under such laws should be insurable. This Dialogue, though not written in response, presents a contrasting view: that the federal Superfund Act as implemented is inequitable and inefficient and that its expansive, unexpected liabilities coupled with enormous litigation costs are forcing insurers from the market. The author argues that the government's litigation-oriented implementation strategy tends to delay remedial action, that litigation is burning up funds better devoted to cleanup or prevention, and that the liability scheme is inherently unfair.

CERCLA Amendments—The House Subcommittee Bill

by William L. Want

Editors' Summary: In this Dialogue, Mr. Want describes the CERCLA amendments passed by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Commerce, Transportation, and Tourism. At press time, the full committee was proceeding with markup, but the committee version was not expected to differ substantially from the subcommittee bill, with one notable exception. On July 18, the Committee approved by voice vote an amendment, sponsored by Rep. Wyden (D-Or.), that would require EPA to start 540 cleanups within six years, or give Congress a detailed explanation for its failure.The Committee had rejected the day before a similar, but more stringent amendment offered by Rep. Florio (D-N.J.), chairman of the Subcommittee.