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Wason Ranch Corp. v. Hecla Mining Co.

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20082
Nos. No. 07-cv-00267, (D. Colo., 03/31/2008) Dismissed

A district court dismissed, without prejudice, a ranch owner's claims that mining companies are liable under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act for releasing and discharging solid and hazardous wastes into Willow Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande. CERCLA §113(h) bars the owner's claims. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the midst of an ongoing Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act response action in the Willow Creek Watershed. Simply because the mine sites are not included on the national priorities list does not mean that EPA is not taking a response action. In addition, the ranch owner's complaint is a challenge to EPA's cleanup within the meaning of §113(h) because if the requested relief were granted, it would dictate specific remedial actions and alter the method and order for EPA’s cleanup plan for Willow Creek. Granting civil penalties would also interfere with the ongoing cleanup action in the Willow Creek Watershed.