U.S. v. E.I. Du Pont De Nemours & Co., Inc.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court of Western District of New York
Citation341 F.Supp.2d 215
Docket NumberNo. 01-CV-658S.,01-CV-658S.
PartiesUNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff, v. E.I. DU PONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC., Defendant.
Decision Date31 August 2004

David L. Gordon, Katherine M. Kane, Scott D. Bauer, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Mary Pat Fleming, U.S. Attorney's Office, Buffalo, NY, for Plaintiff and Counter-Defendant.

Daniel M. Darragh, Buchanan Ingersoll PC, Pittsburgh, PA, for Defendant and Counter-Claimant.

DECISION AND ORDER

SKRETNY, District Judge.

                TABLE OF CONTENTS
                    Title                                                                 Page
                Introduction ..............................................................220
                Findings of Fact ..........................................................221
                      I. Necco Park .......................................................221
                         A. Generally .....................................................221
                         B. Site Characteristics ..........................................221
                         C. Nature and Extent of Contamination ............................222
                     II. History of EPA Activity at the Necco Park Site ...................224
                         A. RCRA § 3013 Order and Related Consent Decree ..................224
                         B. AOC and Related Work ..........................................225
                         C. Risk Assessment ...............................................225
                         D. ROD ...........................................................226
                         E. UAO ...........................................................227
                
                    III. CERCLA § 107 Cost-Recovery Litigation .......................228
                         A. Procedural History ............................................228
                         B. Documentation of EPA Response Costs ...........................228
                         C. Documentation of DOJ Enforcement Costs ........................229
                              i. Direct Labor Costs .......................................229
                             ii. Other Direct Costs .......................................230
                            iii. Indirect Costs ...........................................230
                         D. Summary of Administrative Record ..............................230
                Conclusions of Law ........................................................231
                      I. Background .......................................................231
                     II. Recovery of Costs Related to RCRA Order and Consent Decree .......233
                         A. RCRA Order & Remedial Investigation ...........................233
                         B. Use of RCRA Authority & Per Se Inconsistency with the NCP .....236
                    III. Recovery of Costs Related to DOJ Enforcement Activities ..........238
                         A. Statutory Basis for Recovery of DOJ Enforcement Costs .........238
                         B. DOJ Enforcement Costs & the NCP ...............................241
                             i. "Necessary" or "Reasonableness" Standard ..................241
                            ii. Documentation of DOJ Enforcement Costs ....................243
                     IV. Validity of September 1998 CERCLA § 106 Order ...............246
                         A. Standard for Issuance of UAO under CERCLA § 106(a)........246
                         B. Defendant's Challenge to the September 1998 UAO ...............248
                             i. Risk Assessment & Probability .............................248
                            ii. Use of "Baseline" Risk Assessment .........................249
                         C. Judicial Review of UAO ........................................249
                      V. Recovery of Costs Related to September 1998 UAO ..................254
                     VI. Declaratory Judgment and Prejudgment Interest ....................255
                Summary ...................................................................255
                Orders ....................................................................256
                List of Acronyms ..........................................................256
                
INTRODUCTION

This is a cost-recovery action brought under section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"). Plaintiff seeks to recover costs incurred in connection with the investigation and cleanup of Necco Park, a hazardous waste site owned by Defendant E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc. and located in Niagara Falls, New York.

A non-jury trial was held before this Court on April 26, 2004 and April 27, 2004. Plaintiff introduced numerous exhibits and offered the testimony of two witnesses, Thomas E. Taccone and William Kime.1 Defendant did not call any witnesses, but introduced several exhibits. This Court heard closing statements from counsel on April 27, 2004, which included detailed presentations of the evidence contained in the Administrative Record. In addition, this Court frequently posed questions to counsel during the presentation of evidence and during closing arguments.

Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides, in pertinent part, that "[i]n all actions tried upon the facts without a jury ... the court shall find the facts specially and state separately its conclusions of law thereon." FED. R. CIV. P. 52(a). In accordance with Rule 52, this Court's findings of fact and conclusions of law are set forth below.

FINDINGS OF FACT
I. Necco Park
A. Generally

1. Necco Park is a twenty-four acre landfill located in an industrialized section of the City of Niagara Falls, New York. (Plaintiff's Trial Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at p. 500009).2

2. The landfill is located approximately 1.5 miles north of the Niagara River. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at pp. 400031-33).

3. Residential neighborhoods are located approximately 2000 feet to the south and 2500 feet west of the landfill. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at p. 400032).

4. A wastewater treatment facility owned by CECOS International, Inc. (the "CECOS facility") and three inactive hazardous waste landfill cells are located immediately south of Necco Park. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at p. 400032; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at p. 500009).

5. Defendant has owned Necco Park since approximately 1930. (Docket No. 52, at p. 1).3

6. Defendant began using the property as a landfill during the mid-to-late 1930s. (Docket No. 52, at p. 1).

7. By 1977, the company had disposed of approximately 93,000 tons of industrial waste at Necco Park. (Docket No. 52, at p. 1).

8. Some of the waste disposed of at the landfill included hazardous substances, such as hexachloroethane, carbon tetrachloride, chloroform, methylene chloride, and hexachlorobenzene. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at pp. 400033-34; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at pp. 500015-16; Docket No. 52, at pp. 1-2).

9. In 1977, Defendant suspected that some of the industrial waste might be leaking from Necco Park into the surrounding soil and groundwater. In response, the company voluntarily stopped disposing of waste at the landfill and took various investigative and corrective actions. (Docket No. 52, at p. 2).

10. Between 1978 and 1982, Defendant placed a clay cap over the landfill, installed groundwater monitoring wells, collected and analyzed soil and groundwater samples, and installed and operated two groundwater pumping wells. Between 1983 and 1985, Defendant undertook additional studies to assess the nature and extent of groundwater contamination and to evaluate the effectiveness of its response measures. (Tr.,4 at 96-97; Exhibit 1, Vol. V, at pp. 301802-807, 301812-814; Docket No. 52, at p. 2).

B. Site Characteristics

11. In this case, the designation "Necco Park Site" or "the Site" refers to the Necco Park landfill itself, as well as the surrounding areas where hazardous substances from the landfill have come to be located in the soils, bedrock, and groundwater. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at p. 500009).

12. The geology beneath the Necco Park Site consists of an overburden of sand, silt, clay, and miscellaneous fill.5 Several distinct layers of bedrock are located beneath the overburden. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XI, at pp. 304789-95; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at pp. 500009-10).

13. Groundwater flowing under the Necco Park Site in the upper portion of the bedrock generally moves to the south. Groundwater in the lower portion of the bedrock generally moves to the west. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at p. 400054; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII. at pp. 50014-15).

14. The Falls Street Tunnel is an underground storm sewer located approximately 2400 feet southwest of Necco Park. The tunnel carries storm water west to the Niagara River. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIV, at p. 400032; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at p. 500024).

15. In dry weather, all of the water flow from the Falls Street Tunnel is treated at the Niagara Falls Publicly Owned Treatment Works before it is discharged into the Niagara River. However, in wet weather, some of the water bypasses treatment and is discharged directly into the river. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIV, at p. 401112; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at p. 500012).

16. An undetermined amount of groundwater flowing south in the upper bedrock layer under the Necco Park Site flows into the Falls Street Tunnel. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XIV, at p. 401112; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at pp. 500014-15, 500024).

17. Any groundwater flowing south from the Site in the upper bedrock that does not enter the Falls Street Tunnel continues flowing south directly into the Niagara River. (Exhibit 1, Vol. XII, at p. 900016-17; Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at p. 400043).

18. The New York Power Authority ("NYPA")6 conduits are two parallel underground tunnels located approximately 3700 feet west of Necco Park. The NYPA conduits carry water north from the Niagara River to the Forebay Canal for use by the Robert Moses Power Station. Water from the Forebay Canal is released into the Niagara River untreated. (Exhibit 1, Vol. V., at pp. 301843-845; Exhibit 1, Vol. XIII, at p. 400032; Exhibit 1, Vol. XVII, at pp. 500011-13, 500024-25; Exhibit 1, Vol. XII, at pp. 900001-39).

19. Groundwater flowing into the drainage system surrounding the NYPA conduits moves either north or south. When...

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