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Orange Cty. Water Dist. v. Sabic Innovative Plastics US, LLC

ELR Citation: 47 ELR 20099
Nos. D070553, , (Cal. Ct. App., 08/04/2017)

A California appellate court held that the Water District of Orange County may pursue state Superfund claims for groundwater contamination. In 1998, the District discovered two VOCs in groundwater drawn from the South Basin area. In 2001, perchlorate was discovered in a well, leading the District to suspect extensive groundwater contamination. While developing a remediation plan, the District filed suit against parties it believed responsible for the contamination. The parties claimed that the state Hazardous Substance Account Act (HSAA) did not allow the District to bring suit if it did not show evidence that it was jointly liable with defendants for costs arising from contamination. The lower court agreed with the defendants, holding that the District must show that it is jointly responsible for the response costs. The appellate court disagreed, reasoning that the statutory language stating that any party "who has incurred response or corrective action costs" may seek reimbursement allows the District to bring suit against the parties in question. The ruling was reversed.