This Week in Environmental Disclosure

As we’ve posted in the past, public companies must generally disclose material legal proceedings in their annual, quarterly, and current reports to the SEC. Today we’ve pulled some disclosures of environmental liabilities from recent filings of interest.

In December 2005, the EPA notified the Company that it considers the Company a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) with respect to contamination at two Superfund sites in upstate New York. The sites were used as landfills for process wastes generated by a glue manufacturer, which acquired tannery wastes from several tanners, allegedly including the Company’s Whitehall tannery, for use as raw materials in the gluemaking process. The Company has no records indicating that it ever provided raw materials to the gluemaking operation and has not been able to establish whether the EPA’s substantive allegations are accurate. The Company, together with other tannery PRPs, has entered into cost sharing agreements and Consent Decrees with the EPA with respect to both sites. Based upon the current estimates of the cost of remediation, the Company’s share is expected to be less than $250,000 in total for the two sites. While there is no assurance that the Company’s share of the actual cost of remediation will not exceed the estimate, the Company does not presently expect that its aggregate exposure with respect to these two landfill sites will have a material adverse effect on its financial condition or results of operations.

In 1989, the Company sold its 48 acre Portland, Oregon stockyard to Oregon Waste Systems, Inc. On September 29, 2003, the United States Environmental Agency (EPA) placed a 4.2 acre portion of that property on the National Priorities List pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund Act. In a letter from the EPA dated June 27, 2005 the Company, along with approximately 13 other parties, including the current owner and operator of the site, was notified that it might be liable to perform or pay for the remediation of environmental contamination found on and around the site. Since the receipt of the letter, the Company has been in periodic communications with the other parties who received a similar letter with respect to what action, collectively or individually, should be taken in response to the EPA assertion of liability. The Company believes that the remediation of contamination of the site is properly the responsibility of other parties that have occupied and used it for waste recycling purposes since 1961, although under CERCLA the EPA is able to assert joint and several liability against all parties who ever owned or operated the site or generated or transported wastes to it. This investigation is in its preliminary stages and the Company intends to vigorously defend any liability for remediation. At April 30, 2011, the liability for remediation, if any, is not estimatable and therefore no accrual has been recorded in the financial statements.

In January 2006, the Company received a request for information pursuant to Section 308 of the Clean Water Act from Region 3 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) concerning storm water discharge practices in connection with its homebuilding projects in the states that comprise EPA Region 3. The Company provided information to the EPA pursuant to the request. The U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has now assumed responsibility for the oversight of this matter and has alleged that the Company has violated regulatory requirements applicable to storm water discharges and that it may seek injunctive relief and/or civil penalties. The Company is now engaged in settlement discussions with representatives from the DOJ and the EPA.

  • AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES INC | Form 10-Q | 6/7/2011

As part of our acquisition of Varian, we assumed the liabilities of Varian, including Varian’s costs and potential liabilities for environmental matters. One such cost is our obligation, along with the obligation of Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates, Inc. (“VSEA”) (under the terms of a Distribution Agreement between Varian, VSEA and Varian Medical Systems, Inc. (“VMS”)) to each indemnify VMS for one-third of certain costs (after adjusting for any insurance proceeds and tax benefits recognized or realized by VMS for such costs) relating to (a) environmental investigation, monitoring and/or remediation activities at certain facilities previously operated by Varian Associates, Inc. (“VAI”) and third-party claims made in connection with environmental conditions at those facilities, and (b) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or third-party claims alleging that VAI or VMS is a potentially responsible party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, as amended (“CERCLA”) in connection with certain sites to which VAI allegedly shipped manufacturing waste for recycling, treatment or disposal (the “CERCLA sites”). With respect to the facilities formerly operated by VAI, VMS is overseeing the environmental investigation, monitoring and/or remediation activities, in most cases under the direction of, or in consultation with, federal, state and/or local agencies, and handling third-party claims. VMS is also handling claims relating to the CERCLA sites. Although any ultimate liability arising from environmental- related matters could result in significant expenditures that, if aggregated and assumed to occur within a single fiscal year, could be material to our financial statements, the likelihood of such occurrence is considered remote. Based on information currently available and our best assessment of the ultimate amount and timing of environmental-related events, management believes that the costs of environmental-related matters are not reasonably likely to have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.

On March 28, 2008, the Company received a Notice of Violation from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (the “Department”) alleging various violations of Missouri hazardous waste laws and regulations in connection with the activities of a third-party contractor with whom the Company had contracted for recycling services. The Department alleges that the Company provided certain items to the contractor for recycling that should have been managed as hazardous waste. The EPA has inspected the contractor’s facilities, and both the EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Missouri are conducting investigations. The Company has submitted a response to the Notice of Violation and is cooperating with these authorities. While management cannot predict the ultimate outcome of this matter, management does not believe the outcome will have a material effect on the Company’s financial condition or results of operations.

  • PRECISION CASTPARTS CORP | Form 10-K | 6/2/2011

We have been named as a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) at sites identified by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and state regulatory agencies for investigation and remediation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) and similar state statutes. Under common law, as applied in the environmental remediation context, PRPs may be jointly and severally liable, and therefore the Company may be potentially liable to the government or third parties for the full cost of remediating contamination at our facilities or former facilities or at third-party sites where we have been designated a PRP. In estimating our current reserves for environmental matters, we have assumed that we will not bear the entire cost of remediation of every site to the exclusion of other PRPs who may also be liable for contributing to the cost of cleanup. We are a party to various cost-sharing arrangements with other PRPs at certain sites. Our estimates of current reserves factor in these cost- sharing arrangements and an assessment of the likelihood that such parties will fulfill their obligations at such sites. In the unlikely event that we are required to fully fund the remediation of a site, the statutory framework would allow us to pursue rights of contribution from other PRPs. We are identified as a PRP at the following federally designated Superfund sites: Lipari Landfill, Gloucester, New Jersey; Boarhead Farms, Bridgeton, Pennsylvania; Operating Industries, Monterey Park, California; Casmalia Resources Site, Casmalia, California; Pasco Sanitary Landfill, Pasco, Washington; Quanta Resources Corp., Edgewater, New Jersey; and Peterson-Puritan Site, Cumberland, Rhode Island. Generally, these Superfund sites are mature and almost all of the sites are in the remedial implementation phase and, as a consequence, are subject to less uncertainty than newly discovered sites. These Superfund sites constitute approximately $1.1 million, or 2 percent, of our current environmental reserves.

The Company is exposed to liabilities under such EH&S laws arising from its past handling, release, storage and disposal of materials now designated as hazardous substances and hazardous wastes. The Company previously has received notification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), equivalent state and local agencies or others alleging or indicating that the Company is or may be responsible for performing and/or investigating environmental remediation, or seeking the repayment of the costs spent by governmental entities or others performing investigations and/or remediation at certain U.S. sites under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act or similar state laws. On May 25, 2011, as part of the claims reconciliation process under the Plan, the Bankruptcy Court approved a settlement between the Company and the EPA (“EPA Settlement”) regarding a number of federal environmental claims. The claims allowed pursuant to the EPA Settlement will be resolved with the distribution of Company common stock pursuant to the Plan. The EPA Settlement also caps the Company’s proportionate liability, if any, that may ultimately arise in the future with respect to federal claims at certain unknown sites.

  • WILLIAMS COMPANIES INC | Form 8-K | 6/1/2011

We are a participant in certain environmental activities in various stages including assessment studies, cleanup operations and/or remedial processes at certain sites, some of which we currently do not own (see Note 16 of Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements). We are monitoring these sites in a coordinated effort with other potentially responsible parties, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or other governmental authorities. We are jointly and severally liable along with unrelated third parties in some of these activities and solely responsible in others. Current estimates of the most likely costs of such activities are approximately $49 million, all of which are included in accrued liabilities and other liabilities and deferred income on the Consolidated Balance Sheet at December 31, 2010. We will seek recovery of approximately $12 million of these accrued costs through future natural gas transmission rates. The remainder of these costs will be funded from operations. During 2010, we paid approximately $8 million for cleanup and/or remediation and monitoring activities. We expect to pay approximately $11 million in 2011 for these activities. Estimates of the most likely costs of cleanup are generally based on completed assessment studies, preliminary results of studies or our experience with other similar cleanup operations. At December 31, 2010, certain assessment studies were still in process for which the ultimate outcome may yield significantly different estimates of most likely costs. Therefore, the actual costs incurred will depend on the final amount, type, and extent of contamination discovered at these sites, the final cleanup standards mandated by the EPA or other governmental authorities, and other factors.

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