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United States v. Reuland Electric Co.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20208
Nos. No. 08-5618, (C.D. Cal., 06/08/2011)

A district court held that a consent decree settling an electric company's CERCLA liability with EPA and granting it contribution protection against additional CERCLA liability at an industrial site does not provide the company with contribution protection from a defense company's action seeking damages stemming from contamination at a water treatment plant. The consent decree only concerns costs for CERCLA response work and does not encompass the damage the contamination caused to a water company's production wells, or the water treatment systems the water company installed on those wells. The defense company and the electric company both entered consent decrees with EPA concerning CERCLA liability at the site. The defense company also entered a second consent decree involving contamination caused to a nearby water company's production wells and water treatment systems. The defense company now seeks contribution from the nonsettling parties for their proportionate shares of the damages it paid to the water company, and the costs it continues to incur to maintain appropriate water treatment systems. The electric company argued that its consent decree with EPA grants it contribution protection from the defense company’s claims. But the consent decree grants the electric company contribution protection against CERCLA response costs only, and the water company liabilities are not CERCLA response costs.