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Confederated Tribes & Bands of the Yakima Nation v. United States

ELR Citation: 37 ELR 20238
Nos. No. CY-02-3105-LRS, (E.D. Wash., 09/04/2007)

A district court denied the U.S.' motion to dismiss a Native American tribe's Comprehensive Environmental Respose, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) claims for natural resource damage assessment costs in connection with the government's release of radionuclides and other hazardous substances at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington. The government argued that the claims were not ripe because the final remedial action has not yet been selected. However, an action for the recovery of injury assessment costs under CERCLA §107(a)(4)(C) is ripe when such costs are incurred. Ripeness does not depend on the selection of a "remedial action" specified in §113(g)(1). This allows the remedial action to address whatever natural resource damage there may be. Hence, CERCLA §113(g)(1) does not apply to the tribe's claim for natural resource damage assessment costs, and the government's motion to dismiss was denied.