Superfund Defense Savings
Quarles & Brady has extensive experience chairing groups of potentially responsible parties (PRPs) at federal Superfund sites. Since 1993, for example, a Quarles attorney has either chaired or co-chaired a Superfund cleanup in the Pinelands of New Jersey. At this particular site, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected remedies for two operable units before identifying most potentially responsible parties. Cleanup costs were estimated by EPA at $57 million (in 1988 dollars). After successfully changing the remedy initially selected by EPA for the site, the first operable unit is now cleaned and closed, and the second is nearing completion, all for a cost roughly half of EPA’s original estimate.
Quarles & Brady has worked extensively for a client that historically owned paper-making, printing, packaging, and chemical operations through the United States. These assets were divested in the 1980s, and Quarles & Brady has managed retained environmental liabilities for this client on a national basis since then. This work includes some 30 Superfund sites in total, eight of which are active and many of which have required the negotiation of administrative orders and consent decrees, or a response to unilateral administrative orders under Section 106 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Quarles & Brady has also represented this client in mediation and litigation designed to allocate site costs among the named respondents and other parties thought to have used various disposal sites. This client has sites in Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.
The Lower Fox River and Green Bay portion of Lake Michigan (the “Fox River Site”) represents one of the world’s largest river and harbor environmental projects. Our client was identified as a potentially responsible party in 1994, along with six other paper mills located along the Fox River. Since then, we have focused considerable attention on governmental claims by (1) directing complex and multidisciplinary technical evaluations (including remedial investigation, fate and transport modeling, ecological and human health risk assessments, and natural resource damage assessments); (2) overseeing public and governmental relations at the federal, state, and local levels; (3) negotiating and directing implementation of a consent decree and an amended consent decree to perform response actions in Operable Unit 1 (OU1) beginning in 2004 (seven river miles, at a cost exceeding $100 Million); (4) responding to a Unilateral Administrative Order for Remedial Action issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 to perform and fund remedial action in Operable Units 2–5 (32 river miles, at a cost of $600–$800 million over 10-plus years); and (5) addressing natural resource damage claims of seven federal, state, and tribal trustees. Based on the technical and legal case we developed, for example, the agencies issued an amended remedy for the river segment (OU1) that our client remediated (with one other party). The cost savings due to the amended remedy exceeded $50 million. As a bonus, ongoing sampling indicates that site risks are being reduced more quickly than originally anticipated.