Tagged: Mitigation

A Landmark Step: EPA Designates PFOA and PFOS as Hazardous Substances Under CERCLA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) announcement on April 19, 2024, of its final rule designating perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), marks a significant moment in environmental regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). At the same time, the EPA released a new PFAS Enforcement Discretion and Settlement Policy under CERCLA (“Enforcement Policy”). These two announcements have wide-ranging implications for Superfund cleanups, development projects, public health, and the scope of environmental liability under CERCLA. The Persistent Threat of “Forever Chemicals” PFOA and PFOS belong to the PFAS class, a large group of man-made chemicals known for their exceptional resistance to degradation. These chemicals have been widely used since the 1940s in countless industrial applications and consumer products. Their unique chemical structure makes them highly effective in repelling water, oil, and stains. However, this same property also makes them incredibly persistent in the environment, earning them the nickname “forever chemicals.” Over time, PFAS have infiltrated various environmental media, including soil, water, and air. Extensive research over the past few decades has linked PFAS exposure to a range of human health problems, including: Certain cancers, particularly testicular and kidney cancers Liver damage Increased cholesterol levels Thyroid issues Developmental problems in infants and children, including low birth...

Unraveling Environmental Legal Complexities: Lessons from the Clarios Case and RIP Waivers

A recent February 5, 2024, decision by the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division delivered a significant blow to Clarios, LLC (Clarios), a car battery manufacturer facing environmental scrutiny at its New Brunswick plant. This recent decision has echoed through the environmental legal landscape, leaving companies contemplating the use of Remediation in Progress Waivers (RIP waivers) with critical questions and a renewed sense of caution. The case, far from offering definitive answers, instead highlights the intricate interplay between property rights, environmental stewardship, and the nuances of due process protections. Moreover, the court’s denial of Clarios’s request to postpone remediation has broader implications for scenarios involving joint liability agreements and property transactions, highlighting the complex challenges associated with RIP waivers. By dissecting the court’s reasoning and its implications, we gain valuable insights into the limitations and prudent utilization of RIP waivers, ensuring responsible environmental practices and mitigating unintended legal consequences. Decoding the Chain of Title of the RIP Waiver The complex history of the RIP waiver granted to Clarios in 2007 finds its roots in the ownership transition of the site. Delphi Automotive Systems, LLC (Delphi), the former owner, had been manufacturing automobile batteries at the location. In 2006, Delphi sold the property to Johnson Controls Battery Group, Inc., a corporate predecessor of Clarios, triggering a sequence of...

Vapor Intrusion Guidance Continues to Take Form With the Release of EPA’s Final Draft Guidance

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently released its long-awaited final vapor intrusion draft guidance (“Final VI Guidance”). The nearly 200-page document establishes a complex framework for assessing vapor intrusion from analyzing key factors; making risk management decisions; and implementing, monitoring and terminating mitigation strategies and is intended to be used at any site that is being evaluated under CERCLA, RCRA, EPA’s brownfield grantees, or state agencies with delegated authority. The Final VI Guidance supercedes all prior EPA guidance documents addressing vapor intrusion assessment and mitigation including the 2002 Draft Vapor Intrusion Guidance, but takes into account the public comments submitted from 2002 through 2012 and the recommendations of the Office of Inspector General (OIG).