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Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Beazer East, Inc.

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20010
Nos. 13-1209, (3d Cir., 01/02/2014)

The Third Circuit, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a lower court decision dismissing as time barred a state environmental agency's CERCLA lawsuit seeking reimbursement of response costs incurred at a former landfill. The defendants argued that the agency's action at the site was a "removal" action. Since the state agency finished its cleanup in January 2004, they argued the complaint filed in August 2009 was beyond the three-year period for timely filing. The agency, meanwhile, argued that its actions were in fact a permanent remedy and should qualify as a "remedial" action under CERCLA, thus invoking the six-year statute-of-limitations period. But even when taken in the light most favorable to the agency, the complaint fails to justify the conclusion that the disposal on the site was "remedial" and thus subject to a longer statute-of-limitations period. The actions, which the state initially labeled as an "interim" response, were more akin to a "cleanup or removal of released hazardous substances" than a permanent remedy.