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United States v. Charles George Trucking Co.

ELR Citation: 16 ELR 20495
Nos. No. 85-2463-G, 624 F. Supp. 1185/23 ERC 1989/(D. Mass., 01/14/1986) Gov't's motion for partial summary judgment against parents substantially granted

The court rules that §3007(a) of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to request information about a hazardous waste handler's preparation of responses to inquiries, transactions with its customers, and individual defendants' roles in the company, but not about the company's financial condition and insurance. The plain language of the RCRA provision and EPA's parallel authority under §104(e)(1) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) allow the agency to seek information "relating to" hazardous waste handled by the defendant. The court rejects defendant's narrow reading of this language, which would limit EPA to information about the wastes themselves, and plaintiff's expansive reading, which would give the government access to any information relevant to a cost recovery action under CERCLA.

Turning to plaintiff's claim for civil penalties as a result of defendant's failure to comply with a RCRA order to produce the requested information, the court rules that the penalty provision in §3008 applies to noncompliance with information requests under §3007. Although legislative history indicated that Congress intended §3008 to deter midnight dumping, the language of the provision makes clear that it applies to violations of any requirement of RCRA. The court also rejects defendant's constitutional challenges to the RCRA provision that penalties began to accrue upon defendant's failure to commply with the order, ruling that this does not constitute an unreasonable search or seizure, because penalties cannot be imposed before there has been a court hearing on the violation and the penalty assessment, and that it does not violate due process, because defendant had an opportunity to challenge EPA's information requests before any penalty accrued.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Joseph J. McGovern
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 223-3258

Counsel for Defendants
William F. Macauley
Craig & Macauley
One Post Office Square, Boston MA 02109
(617) 426-8220