Remediation − Superfund and Sediments
Our services encompass all aspects of the remedy selection and implementation process, from remedial investigations and feasibility studies through remedial design and remedial action. We provide specialized services relating to the assessment, management, and remediation of complex contaminated sediment sites, including complex issues associated with data analysis and modeling, remedy selection, and remedy implementation (including dredging, capping, and natural recovery), agency negotiations, and public communication. Our services have been honed through negotiations with both state and federal agencies in the context of Administrative Orders on Consent, Consent Decrees, cooperative agreements and responding to Unilateral Administrative Orders. We deal extensively with qualified environmental consultants and engineers, as well as communications experts, to develop scientific analysis and remedial alternatives that minimize expenses while assuring the protection of human health and the environment.
Our environmental attorneys have worked extensively with qualified environmental consultants and engineers in order to develop and ensure implementation of cost-effective remedies. This work extends to all aspects of the remedy selection and implementation process, from remedial investigations and feasibility studies through remedial design and remedial action. We have taken Superfund sites to the completion of all obligations, including de-listing from the National Priorities List (NPL).
The Lower Fox River and Green Bay Site (Lake Michigan) is one of the world’s largest river and harbor environmental projects. Our client was identified as a potentially responsible party (PRP), along with six other paper mills. Since then we have focused considerable attention on resolving federal, state and private party cleanup claims in excess of $1 billion and natural resource damage claims valued by seven trustees, including two tribes, at $280-$420 million. Our work has included:
- Quarles has spent significant time in the last year or two in litigation and negotiating with insurance carriers. Our client, with several other parties, tried its counterclaims for $54 million two months ago, and we are defending the client in the governments’ enforcement case, one phase of which is scheduled to go to trial in December. We have represented our client in four mediations, some with all parties including the response cost agencies and natural resource trustee, others with multiple insurance carriers. Two of the four mediations resulted in very good settlements. One mediation continues.
- Collaborating with several paper manufacturers and consultants on complex technical analyses (including risk assessments, fate and transport modeling, and natural resource damage assessments) to advance less expensive outcomes that effectively address environmental risk.
- Directing consultants in development of government and public relations strategies to manage crisis situations, communicate our proposals to political representatives and the public, and inform them of progress in the cleanup. As a result, contaminated sediment was safely and cost-effectively disposed of within (30) miles of dredging operations (at significant cost savings), the public has not opposed the siting of facilities needed to perform the cleanup, and no third-party claims have been filed to date.
- Managing the successful completion, with one other party, of a 6-year $100 million sediment cleanup of 6-mile long Little Lake Butte des Morts. Our work included negotiating two Consent Decrees, developing a technical strategy to effectively reduce risk and costs, multi-year contracting with consultants and remediation contractors to achieve pricing advantages, and executing a successful public relations campaign. We developed and secured an amended remedy that (i) reduced projected costs by tens of millions of dollars in this site segment alone, and (ii) reduced long-term exposures associated with residual contamination in the river.
- Devising and implementing several natural resource projects to mitigate the natural resource damage claims, negotiating a partial settlement with trustees, and continuing to evaluate additional projects.
- Defending against cost recovery claims for all site cleanup costs and natural resource damages filed by two parties that started cleanup in other river segments. In this case, initially involving 26 other parties, we successfully advocated phasing the litigation to put our best case in first and to manage litigation costs. At the end of the first phase, our client and other key defendants were awarded summary judgment by the trial judge on the plaintiffs’ claims.
Above and beyond sediment sites, our Superfund experience extends to a wide range of more traditional matters involving the allocation of liability among private parties. Many of these cases have involved independent, third-party mediators (e.g., lawyers, former judges, technical firms), where we prepared position papers, conducted discovery (where allowed) and participated in oral advocacy. These cases include sites throughout the East and Midwest with as few as a dozen parties to over 100 parties. In short, our CERCLA allocation experience is extremely broad and provides a solid foundation for representation in any allocation dispute.