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United States v. Tarrant

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20105
Nos. No. 03-3899, (D.N.J., 04/25/2007)

A district court held that the former employee of an electroplating and metal finishing business was liable as an operator under §107(a)(2) of CERCLA for the cost of removal of hazardous waste at the Meadowlands Plating and Finishing site in New Jersey. The United States and the employee stipulated that the site constituted a facility for purposes of CERCLA §107, that hazardous substances had been released at the facility, and that the United States had incurred damages in removing the hazardous waste from the site. The employee, however, claimed that she could not be held liable as an operator because she was merely a consultant and had very little executive authority over the facility's business. Yet credible testimony of other witnesses demonstrated that she was informed and kept abreast of the need to remove hazardous waste from the property. There was also substantial credible evidence that the employee described herself as the person in charge of running the site. The government also established by a preponderance of the credible evidence that the employee had the power to take charge of the hazardous waste removal process herself and to assign funds on behalf of her employer to pay for its removal. The court, therefore, found her liable as an operator.