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Sinclair Oil Corp. v. Scherer

ELR Citation: 24 ELR 20005
Nos. No. 92-8042, 7 F.3d 191/38 ERC 1035/(10th Cir., 10/07/1993)

The court holds that a consent decree between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and an oil company relating to contamination at the company's petroleum refinery does not bar an administrative action alleging that the company violated hazardous waste regulations requiring attachment of notices to, and maintenance of notices for, waste shipments from the site. The court first holds that de novo review is the appropriate standard of review, because the reviewing court and the district court are equally able to construe the parties' agreement. Turning to the merits, the court finds that the administrative counts were not part of the claims in the case to which the decree refers. The administrative counts are absent from the pleadings and the allegations previously filed. Also, the parties expressly excluded from the decree violations of hazardous waste transportation requirements. Finally, the decree's "Statement of Purpose" section expresses the parties' objective of resolving "pending issues," and the alleged violations of the requirement to maintain notices were not "issues" at the time of the decree.

[A related case is published at 20 ELR 20009.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Henry W. Ipsen
Holme, Roberts & Owen
1700 Lincoln St., Ste. 4100, Denver CO 80003
(303) 861-7000

Stanley K. Hathaway
Hathaway, Speight, Kunz, Trautwein & Barrett
2424 Pioneer Ave., Ste. 402, P.O. Box 1208
Cheyenne WY 82003
(307) 634-7723

Counsel for Defendants
Katherine W. Hazard
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Larry Sperling
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
401 M St. SW, Washington DC 20460
(202) 260-2090

Before McWilliams and Brown,* JJ.