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Florida Power Corp. v. First Energy Corp.

ELR Citation: 44 ELR 20232
Nos. 12-cv-1839, (6th Cir., 10/10/2014)

The Sixth Circuit held that a Florida utility's lawsuit to recover cleanup costs it has incurred in connection with the release of hazardous substances at two manufactured gas plant sites is time barred under CERCLA. As a former owner of the site, the utility is a PRP even though it did not release the hazardous substances or own the sites when the hazardous substances were released. It therefore sought to recoup its cleanup costs from other PRPs who did own the sites at the time of release. But the utility's suit was filed too late. In 1998 and again in 2003, the PRP, along with other former owners and operators, entered into administrative orders on consent (AOCs) with EPA for both sites. But the 1998 and 2003 AOCs are "administrative settlements" under CERCLA §113(f)(3)(B), and the effective date of the administrative settlement is the "triggering event" that commences the three-year statute-of-limitations period. Here, the effective dates for the two AOCs were March 26, 1998, and September 30, 2003, and the utility did not file its contribution action until 2011, well beyond the three-year limitations period.