Office of EPA Inspector General Says Updated Final Vapor Intrusion Guidance Needed
By E. Lynn Grayson
Henry Schuver, Ph.D., EPA RCRA Corrective Action Office, recently speaking about vapor intrusion affecting site remediation and redevelopment projects at the "Sustainable Property Transactions: Retooling The Business of Contaminated Sites Redevelopment" program held in Philadelphia, addressed the status of the Agency's guidance in this area. He advised that EPA hopes to finalize guidance on vapor intrusion by the end of 2012. More important, EPA anticipates release of an interim guidance document yet this year. These efforts appear to be prompted, in part, by the December 14, 2009 report from the EPA Office of Inspector General "Lack of Final Guidance on Vapor Intrusion Impedes Efforts to Address Indoor Air Risks."
The report highlighted the concerns with the 2002 draft vapor intrusion guidance noting it has limited purpose and scope. The report recommended that EPA issue final guidance on the evaluation and mitigation of vapor intrusion risks, including final toxicity values for TCE and PCE.
The EPA Office of Inspector General report is available at http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2010/20091214-10-P-0042.pdf
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Allows Complaint By Mossville, LA Residents
By E. Lynn Grayson
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ruled in favor of admitting a human rights complaint on behalf of Mossville, LA residents. The decision marks the first time, according to Advocates for Environmental Human Rights, that the Commission has taken jurisdication over an environmental racism case in the U.S.
The Commission is an entity of the Organization of American States (OAS) of which the U.S. is a member. Mossville is an historic African-American community in southwest Louisiana that is surrounded by fourteen industrial facilities.
More information about this case and related environmental claims is available at http://www.ehumanrights.org/
January 2010 Update: Environmental Lender Liability
By Gabrielle Sigel and Genevieve Essig
CERCLA Case Law Developments
District Court Finds Non-Settling PRP Can Intervene in CERCLA Consent Decree
On January 15, 2010, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia held that a PRP’s right to contribution under CERCLA is a significantly protectable interest permitting a non-settling PRP to intervene as of right to challenge a consent decree between the federal government and a settling PRP. United States v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 08-124 (N.D. W. Va. Jan. 15, 2010). In Exxon, U.S. EPA identified Vertellus Specialties, Inc. (“Vertellus”) and CBS Corporation (“CBS”) as PRPs for contamination at Big John’s Salvage Site (“BJS Site”), a former industrial site in Marion County, West Virginia, the remediation of which could cost more than $24 million. Exxon, previously identified by EPA as a PRP due to its predecessor’s coke production activities nearby, had agreed to a consent decree under which it would pay the government $3 million in exchange for relief from liability for pollution at the BJS site and protection from contribution claims by other PRPs; Vertellus and CBS asserted that the decree unreasonably underestimates Exxon’s liability and sought intervention under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a)(2) and CERCLA § 113(i). Overruling EPA’s objections, the court granted Vertellus’s and CBS’s motions to intervene “for the limited purpose of challenging the proposed consent decree.” Exxon, No. 08-124, slip op. at 20.