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United States v. Scott's Liquid Gold, Inc.

ELR Citation: 27 ELR 20145
Nos. 94-B-2082, 934 F. Supp. 362/(D. Colo., 08/19/1996)

The court holds that the statutes of limitations in §113 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) do not bar the U.S. Army's suit to recover costs it incurred consturcting a water treatment facility as a permanent remedial measure at a portion of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Superfund site. The court first holds that the Army's claim is for contribution under §113 rather than for response costs under CERCLA §107, because it is clearly an action to apportion costs between two responsible parties. The court next holds that an agreement between the Army, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and a local water district for the design and construction of the facility is not the equivalent of a judicially approved settlement that would trigger §113(g)(3)'s statute of limitations for contribution actions. The agreement does not fix the parties' liability, and even if it did, the fixing of liability alone is not sufficient to activate the statute of limitations. Rather, conformance with the additional procedural safeguards that §113(g)(3)(B) requires to ensure that a settlement is either reviewed by a judge or subject to publication in the Federal Register and subject to the notice and comment period is required.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Linda A. Surbaugh, Ass't U.S. Attorney
U.S. Attorney's Office
1200 Federal Office Bldg., Drawer 3615, Denver CO 80294
(303) 844-3400

Counsel for Defendant
Wiley E. Mayne
Holland & Hart
555 17th St., Ste. 2900, Denver CO 80201
(303) 295-8000

BABCOCK, District Judge