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Crowley Marine Servs., Inc. v. Fednav Ltd.

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21105
Nos. CS-94-178-JLQ, 915 F. Supp. 218/42 ERC 1045/(E.D. Wash., 12/11/1995) Corps' immunity from CERCLA, RCRA state-law claims

The court holds that §120(a)(4) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and §6001 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) waive the federal government's immunity from private cost recovery claims brought under state statutes. The court first holds that CERCLA §120(a)(4)'s broad waiver of sovereign immunity waives any immunity the Flood Control Act affords the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) with regard to any contamination from specific property that the Corps currently owns and operates along the banks of the Columbia River. Section 120(a)(4) thereby allows claims brought under the Washington Model Toxics Control Act. The court notes, however, that the U.S. government cannot be held liable for any sites the government does not currently own or operate. Next the court holds that RCRA §6001 waives sovereign immunity for private cost recovery contribution actions under the Washington Hazardous Waste Management Act. RCRA's legislative history is clear that the statute was intended to allow equal application of environmental standards to private citizens and the federal government. The court further holds that the CERCLA claims provide sufficient independent jurisdictional basis for plaintiffs' declaratory relief claims under the Declaratory Judgment Act.

Counsel for Plaintiffs
Rodney L. Brown Jr.
Martin & Brown
1191 Second Ave., 22d Fl., Seattle WA 98101
(206) 292-6300

Counsel for Defendants
Peter D. Byrnes
Byrnes & Keller
1000 Second Ave., 38th Fl., Seattle WA 98104
(206) 622-2000