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Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Lockheed Martin Corp.

ELR Citation: 45 ELR 20029
Nos. 1:09-CV-0821, (M.D. Pa., 01/30/2015) (Rambo)

A district court held that CERCLA §113(f)(2) does not afford the U.S. government protection from contribution claims brought by a third-party PRP in a case involving cleanup costs incurred at the Quehanna Wild Area Nuclear Site in Pennsylvania. The U.S. government entered into a settlement agreement with Pennsylvania's environmental agency to resolve the United States' liability for response costs at the site. Years later, the state agency sought additional contribution from a corporation, a PRP. The corporation then filed a third-party action against the U.S. government. The United States claimed that its potential liability for contribution costs was eliminated by virtue of the settlement agreement. But CERCLA §113(f)(2) only provides immunity from further contribution claims when the party has resolved its CERCLA liability through "an administrative or judicially approved settlement." Here, the settlement was neither judicially approved nor subject to administrative review. Because the procedures designed to ensure due process were not followed, the contribution bar does not apply.