Recently in Environmental Disclosure: ‘We will defend vigorously against all of the claims’

Photo by lucamascaro. Some rights reserved.

As we’ve posted in the past, public companies must generally disclose environmental legal proceedings in various reports to the SEC, and whether or not those proceedings have a material effect on the company’s financial position. Companies may also disclose business risks related to current or pending environmental regulation.

Below is the juiciest stuff we could find that was filed with EDGAR in the past few weeks.

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  • PHYSICIANS FORMULA HOLDINGS, INC. | Form 10-K | 3/7/2012

The facilities are located within an area of regional groundwater contamination known as the Puente Valley “operable unit” (“PVOU”) of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund Site. We, along with many others, were named a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) for the regional contamination by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”). We entered into a settlement with another PVOU PRP, pursuant to which, in return for a payment we had already made and had been fully indemnified for by a third party, the other PRP indemnified us against most claims for PVOU contamination. A court approved and entered a consent decree among the other PRP, us and the EPA that resolves our liability for cleanup of regional groundwater contamination without any payment by us to the EPA. Depending on the scope and duration of the cleanup, we may be required to make further payments to the other PRP for regional groundwater remediation costs. We estimate the amount of such additional payments, if any, would not exceed approximately $130,000. The estimate is based on component estimates for two distinct contaminants that may require remediation. Those estimates in turn are based on a number of assumptions concerning the likelihood that remediation will be required, the cost of remediation if required and other matters. Uncertainty in predicting these matters limits the reliability and precision of the estimates. We expect any such additional payments by us to be covered by indemnities given to us by other companies. Those companies may contest their indemnity obligation for these payments. We believe the companies are financially able to pay the liability. Because we believe it is not probable that we will be held liable for any of these expenses, we have not recorded a liability for such potential claims.

We believe our liability for these contamination matters and related claims is substantially covered by third-party indemnities, has been resolved by prior agreements and settlements, and any costs or expenses associated therewith will be borne by prior operators of the facilities, their successors and their insurers. We are attempting to recoup approximately $772,000 in defense costs from one of these indemnitors. These costs have been expensed as paid by us and are not recorded in the accompanying consolidated balance sheets.

 

In June 2011, we were served in ASARCO LLC v. NL Industries, Inc., et al. (United States District Court, Western District of Missouri, Case No. 4:11-cv-00138-DGK). The plaintiff brought this CERCLA contribution action against several defendants to recover a portion of the amount it paid in settlement with the U.S. Government during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in relation to Tar Creek Superfund Site in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, the Cherokee County Superfund Site in southeast Kansas, the Oronogo-Duenweg Lead Mining Belt Superfund Site in Jasper County, Missouri and the Newton County Mine Tailing Site in Newton County, Missouri. We have denied liability and will defend vigorously against all of the claims.

In September 2011, we were served in ASARCO LLC v. NL Industries, Inc., et al. (United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Case No. 4:11-cv-00864). The plaintiff brought this CERCLA contribution action against several defendants to recover a portion of the amount it paid in settlement with the U.S. Government during its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in relation to the Southeast Missouri Mining District. We have denied liability and will defend vigorously against all of the claims.

 

  • PARKER DRILLING CO /DE/ | Form 10-K | 3/6/2012

In 2003, we received an information request under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) designating Parker Drilling Offshore Corporation, a subsidiary of Parker Drilling, as a potentially responsible party with respect to the Gulfco Marine Maintenance, Inc. Superfund Site in Freeport, Texas (EPA No. TX 055144539). The subsidiary responded to this request and in January 2008 received an administrative order to participate in an investigation of the site and a study of the remediation needs and alternatives. The EPA alleges that the subsidiary is a successor to a party who owned the Gulfco site during the time when chemical releases took place there. In December 2010, we entered into an agreement with two other potentially responsible parties, pursuant to which we agreed to pay 20 percent of past and future costs to study and remediate the site. The EPA recently issued notice letters to several other parties who may also participate in funding the site remediation costs. As of December 31, 2011, the Company had made certain participating payments and had accrued $0.7 million for our portion of certain unreimbursed past costs and the estimated future cost of remediation.

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