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California River Watch v. Vacaville, City of

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20180
Nos. 20-16605, (9th Cir., 09/29/2021)

The Ninth Circuit, 2-1, vacated summary judgment for a California city in a RCRA citizen suit brought by an environmental group. The group had argued the city's water wells were contaminated by hexavalent chromium that was in turn transported to city residents through its water distribution system. A district court concluded that the carcinogen did not constitute "solid waste" under RCRA because the group failed to show it was a "discarded material," and granted summary judgment for the city. The appellate court found that the group had sufficiently raised the argument that the hexavalent chromium was discarded material by presenting evidence that when it was discharged into the environment from wood treatment facilities, it was not serving its intended use as a preservative and was not the result of natural wear and tear. Because the district court's interpretation of RCRA was at odds with the statute's plain text, the appellate court vacated summary judgment for the city and remanded for further proceedings.