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United States v. Reilly Tar & Chem. Corp.

Citation: 12 ELR 20954
No. No. 4-80-469, 546 F. Supp. 1100/17 ERC 2110/(D. Minn., 08/20/1982) Motions to dismiss denied

The district court denies motions to dismiss claims brought by federal, state, and local governments under § 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and §§ 106(a) and 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against the prior owner of an inactive hazardous waste disposal site in St. Louis Park, Minnesota. The court rules that liability under § 7003 of RCRA is not limited to interstate groundwater pollution. Nor is the section limited to ongoing disposal actions; it also applies to inactive sites and to prior owners of inactive sites. In addition, the court rules that plaintiffs' allegations of defendants' long-term disposal of contaminants into the groundwater are sufficient to establish an imminent and substantial endangerment within the meaning of § 7003.

The court rules that plaintiffs' claims under § 106(a) of CERCLA need not contain an allegation of specific presidential authorization for the lawsuit because under § 115 of CERCLA the President has delegated CERCLA duties to the Environmental Protection Agency. It also rules that § 106(a) applies to intrastate groundwater pollution and to prior owners of a disposal site. In addition, the final adoption of the revised National Contingency Plan is not a prerequisite to bringing suit to recover response costs pursuant to § 107(a) of CERCLA. The court also holds that liability under § 107(a) is absolute, subject only to the defenses enumerated in § 107(b). Finally, the court rules that Minnesota's claim for natural resources damages under § 107(a)(4)(C) may proceed even though natural resource damage assessment regulations and an assessment mechanism have not yet been promulgated. Rejecting defendants' argument that the state cannot seek recovery for damages that occurred prior to the enactment of CERCLA, the court rules that, under § 107(f), defendants may escape liability for natural resources damages only if all releases ended before, and no damages were suffered after, the Act's enactment.

[The pleadings in this case are summarized at ELR PEND. LIT. 65739 — Ed.]

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Erica L. Dolgin
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-5258

Francis X. Herman
110 S. Fourth St., Minneapolis MN 55401
(612) 332-8961

Stephen Shackman, Dennis Coyne
1935 W. Country Rd. B-2, Roseville MN 55113
(612) 296-1342

Counsel for Defendants
Edward J. Schwartzbauer, Michael Wahoske
Dorsey, Windhorst, Hannaford, Whitney & Halladay
2200 First Bank Pl. E., Minneapolis MN 55402
(612) 340-2825