Mobil Oil Corp. v. Environmental Protection Agency

13 ELR 20635 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1983 | All rights reserved


Mobil Oil Corp. v. Environmental Protection Agency

No. 82-C-5441 (N.D. Ill. December 28, 1982)

The district court holds that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authority under § 308 of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) to inspect internal waste streams on plaintiff's property pursuant to a warrant. First, the court rules that the inspection and sampling conducted by EPA at plaintiff's facility was authorized by a valid warrant and met all applicable requirements of § 308 of the FWPCA and the Fourth Amendment. The court rejects plaintiff's assertion that EPA's authority is limited to inspection of the final point of discharge of waste streams to navigable waters. Instead, it holds that the term "effluent" as used in the FWPCA and specifically in § 308 includes all waste streams which flow out of equipment within facilities or out of the facility and are discharged to navigable waters or publicly owned treatment works. The court notes that EPA may sample point source discharges or internal waste streams without first requesting an owner or operator of that facility to sample those same effluents.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Thomas D. Allen, Elsie E. Singer, James M. Mulcahy
Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon
Suite 3000, One IBM Plaza, Chicago IL 60611
(312) 222-0400

Nelson S. Anthony, Regional Attorney; Arthur G. Hofmann
Mobil Oil Corp., 600 Woodfield Dr., Schaumberg IL 60196
(312) 885-6091

Counsel for Defendants
Dan K. Webb, U.S. Attorney; Edward J. Moran
U.S. Cthse., Rm. 1500 S, 219 S. Dearborn St., Chicago IL 60604
(312) 353-5300

Robert M. Anderson, Barbara Magel, David M. Sims
Office of Regional Counsel
Environmental Protection Agency, 230 S. Dearborn St., Chicago IL 60604
(312) 353-2000

[13 ELR 20635]

Perry, J.:

Final Order and Judgment

The above-captioned matter came on for hearing respecting plaintiff's (Mobil) Motions for a Temporary Restraining Order, [13 ELR 20636] Preliminary Injunction, and other relief on September 3, 1982. In conjunction with these Motions, Mobil had also filed an appeal of Federal Magistrate Sussman's denial of plaintiff's Motion to Quash the warrant at issue in this case, and a civil action for Declaratory Judgment and Permanent Injunction against the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region V (EPA) et al. Mobil Oil requested this Court, inter alia to declare that EPA's inspection of Mobil's facility at Channahon, Illinois, conducted pursuant to a warrant, on August 30, 1982 to September 2, 1982, was illegal, beyond the scope of section 308 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1318 (1977), (Act), and unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment search and seizure clause. Mobil Oil alleges that EPA has no authority under the Clean Water Act to sample internal waste streams located on Mobil Oil property at any points other than the final point of discharge of those streams to navigable waters. EPA's purpose in conducting the inspection and sampling program was to obtain information which may be necessary for the development of effluent limitations that require the application of best available technology economically achievable (BAT) or best practicable control technology (BPT) pursuant to sections 301 and 304 of the Clean Water Act, and to monitor Mobil Oil's compliance with other environmental requirements under the Act.

At the time of the hearing on the Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction, all parties agreed in open Court that there was no dispute as to material facts in the case and that the sole questions presented were issues of law. This Court established a briefing scheduled to be followed by the parties in an Order dated September 7, 1982. Defendant EPA filed a timely Motion to Dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted, together with its supporting memorandum and brief on the merits of the case. After having considered all the pleadings and memoranda filed by both parties to this case, and having been fully advised in the premises, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED the following:

1. The Administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency or his duly authorized representative, upon presentation of his credentials, has the statutory authority pursuant to Section 308 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1318, to collect, or obtain from an owner or operator, samples of internal waste streams in accordance with such methods, at such locations, and in such manner as the Administrator shall prescribe.

2. That the inspection and sampling program conducted by EPA, Region V, at Mobil Oil's Channahon, Illinois facility from August 30, 1982 to September 2, 1982 was authorized by a valid warrant, and by Section 308 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1318. Said inspection was legal, proper, and justified, as well as consistent with all applicable requirements of law including Section 308 of the Clean Water Act and the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

3. The term "effluent" as used throughout the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq., includes waste streams which flow out of industrial facilities, or out of equipment within such facilities, and which ultimately are discharged, either after being treated or otherwise, to navigable waters or publicly owned treatment works.

4. The internal waste streams sampled by EPA at Mobil Oil's Channahon, Illinois facility were "effluents" within the meaning of the Clean Water Act, and Section 308 of the Clean Water Act in particular, 33 U.S.C. § 1318.

5. The Administrator of the U.S. EPA or his duly authorized representative, upon presentation of his credentials, has the statutory authority, pursuant to Section 308 of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1318, to sample any effluents, at any location, whether point source discharges, discharges to a publicly owned treatment works, or internal waste streams, without having first requested an owner or operator of that facility to sample those same effluents. In any event, in this case, EPA's request that Mobil Oil submit samples to the Agency in lieu of any EPA-conducted inspection at the Channahon facilities was rejected by the plaintiff, Mobil Oil Corporation.

WHEREFORE, based on the preceding declarations and judgment, and for the reasons stated in defendants' Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss, it is further ORDERED, ADJUDGED and DECREED:

1. That defendants' Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim is hereby GRANTED in its entirety;

2. Plaintiff's complaint for Declaratory Judgment and other relief is hereby DISMISSED with prejudice;

3. Plaintiff's Motions for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction and other relief the DENIED;

4. Plaintiff's Appeal of Magistrate Sussman's denial of Mobil's Motion to Quash Warrant is DENIED; and

5. This Court's Order of September 7, 1982 is hereby dissolved.


13 ELR 20635 | Environmental Law Reporter | copyright © 1983 | All rights reserved