Archive for the ‘CERCLA’ Category

This Week in Environmental Disclosure

As we’ve posted in the past, public companies must generally disclose environmental legal proceedings in their annual, quarterly, and current reports to the SEC, and whether or not those proceedings have a material effect on the company’s financial position. 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 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.

 

  • C&D TECHNOLOGIES INC | Form 10-Q | 9/7/2011

Pursuant to a 1996 Site Participation Agreement, as later amended in 2000, the Company and several other potentially responsible parties (“PRP”s) agreed upon a cost sharing allocation for performance of remedial activities required by the United States EPA Administrative Order Consent Decree entered for the design and remediation phases at the former NL Industries, Inc. (“NL”) site in Pedricktown, New Jersey, Third Party Facility. In April 2002, one of the original PRPs, Exide Technologies (“Exide”), filed for relief under Chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code. In August 2002, Exide notified the other PRPs that it would no longer be taking an active role in any further action at the site and discontinued its financial participation, resulting in a pro rata increase in the cost participation of the other PRPs, including the Company, for which the Company’s allocated share rose from 5.25% to 7.79%.

In August 2002, the Company was notified of its involvement as a PRP at NL’s Atlanta, Northside Drive Superfund site. NL and Norfolk Southern Railway Company have been conducting a removal action on the site, preliminary to remediation. The Company, along with other PRPs, continues to negotiate with NL at this site regarding the Company’s share of the allocated liability.

[…]

In February 2005, the Company received a request from the EPA to conduct exploratory testing to determine if the historical municipal landfill located on the Company’s Attica, Indiana, property is the source of elevated levels of trichloroethylene detected in two city wells downgradient of the Company’s property. In 2009, EPA determined that the impact to the two city wells was from sources unrelated to the Company’s property. The EPA also advised that it believes the former landfill is subject to remediation under the RCRA corrective action program. The Company conducted testing in accordance with an investigation work plan and submitted the test results to the EPA. The EPA thereafter notified the Company that they also wanted the Company to embark upon a more comprehensive RCRA investigation to determine whether there have been any releases of other hazardous waste constituents from its Attica facility and, if so, to determine what corrective measure may be appropriate. In January 2007, the Company agreed to an Administrative Order on Consent with EPA to investigate, and remediate if necessary, site conditions at the facility. The Company’s investigation revealed lead contamination in one area and chlorinated solvent contamination in another area, both in soil and groundwater. The Company has submitted work plans to the EPA for remediation of the lead and chlorinated solvent contamination. The Company has timely complied with all investigative and remedial actions required by EPA.

 

  • AGILENT TECHNOLOGIES INC | Form 10-Q | 9/7/2011

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.

 

In September 2003, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“NJDEP”) issued a directive to approximately 30 companies, including Franklin-Burlington Plastics, Inc., a subsidiary of the Company (“Franklin-Burlington”), to undertake an assessment of natural resource damage and perform interim restoration of the Lower Passaic River, a 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River in northern New Jersey. The directive, insofar as it relates to the Company and its subsidiary, pertains to the Company’s plastic resin manufacturing facility in Kearny, New Jersey, located adjacent to the Lower Passaic River. The Company acquired the facility in 1986, when it purchased the stock of the facility’s former owner, Franklin Plastics Corp. The Company acquired all of Franklin Plastics Corp.’s environmental liabilities as part of the acquisition.

Also in 2003, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) requested that companies located in the area of the Lower Passaic River, including Franklin-Burlington, cooperate in an investigation of contamination of the Lower Passaic River. In response, the Company and approximately 70 other companies (collectively, the “Cooperating Parties”) agreed, pursuant to an Administrative Order of Consent with the USEPA, to assume responsibility for completing a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (“RIFS”) of the Lower Passaic River. The RIFS is currently estimated to cost approximately $85 million to complete (in addition to USEPA oversight costs) and is currently expected to be completed by late 2012 or early 2013. However, the RIFS costs are exclusive of any costs that may ultimately be required to remediate the Lower Passaic River area being studied or costs associated with natural resource damages that may be assessed. By agreeing to bear a portion of the cost of the RIFS, the Company did not admit to or agree to bear any such remediation or natural resource damage costs. In 2007, the USEPA issued a draft study that evaluated nine alternatives for early remedial action of a portion of the Lower Passaic River. The estimated cost of the alternatives ranged from $900 million to $2.3 billion. The Cooperating Parties provided comments to the USEPA regarding this draft study and to date the USEPA has not taken further action. Given that the USEPA has not finalized its study and that the RIFS is still ongoing, the Company does not believe that remedial costs can be reliably estimated at this time.

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.

* * *

Under environmental laws, an owner or lessee of real estate may be liable for the costs of removal or remediation of certain hazardous or toxic substances located on, or in, or emanating from, such property, as well as related costs of investigation and property damage. Such laws often impose liability without regard to whether the owner or lessee knew of, or was responsible for the presence of such hazardous or toxic substances. There can be no assurances that acquired or leased locations have been operated in compliance with environmental laws and regulations or that future uses or conditions will not result in the imposition of liability upon the Company under such laws or expose the Company to third-party actions such as tort suits. The Company continues to address environmental conditions under terms of consent orders negotiated with the applicable environmental authorities or otherwise with respect to sites located in or related to Woburn, Massachusetts, Somerville, Massachusetts, Springfield, Massachusetts, Uvalde, Texas, Stockton, California, three sites related to former operations in Williamstown, Vermont, as well as a number of additional locations that it acquired as part of its acquisition of Textilease Corporation in September 2003. In addition, the Company is investigating potential contamination at its Landover, Maryland facility in response to a notice it received in 2010 from the Maryland Department of Environment.

The Company has accrued certain costs related to the sites described above as it has been determined that the costs are probable and can be reasonably estimated. The Company continues to implement mitigation measures and to monitor environmental conditions at the Somerville, Massachusetts site. The Company also has potential exposure related to an additional parcel of land (the “Central Area”) related to the Woburn, Massachusetts site discussed above. Currently, the consent decree for the Woburn site does not define or require any remediation work in the Central Area. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) has provided the Company and other signatories to the consent decree with comments on the design and implementation of groundwater and soil remedies at the Woburn site and investigation of environmental conditions in the Central Area. The Company has accrued costs to perform certain work responsive to EPA’s comments.

  • El Paso Pipeline Partners, L.P. | Form 8-K | 7/6/2011

General Background. SNG and CIG are subject to federal, state and local laws and regulations governing environmental quality and pollution control. These laws and regulations require us to remove or remedy the effect on the environment of the disposal or release of specified substances at current and former operating sites. At March 31, 2011, SNG had no accrual for our environmental matters, and CIG had approximately $10 million for expected remediation costs and associated onsite, offsite and groundwater technical studies and for related environmental legal costs; however, we estimate that our exposure could be as high as $33 million. The accrual includes $6 million for environmental contingencies related to properties we previously owned.

CERCLA Restitution Notice (EPA). SNG was named as potentially responsible party (PRP) under a previous settlement entered into with the EPA in 1999 relating to the Port Refinery Superfund Site in Rye Brook, New York.

a. Legal Matters

[…]

Groundwater Cases

South El Monte Operable Unit (“SEMOU”) Related Cases

 In October 2002, Aerojet and approximately 65 other individual and corporate defendants were served with four civil suits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California that seek recovery of costs allegedly incurred or to be incurred in response to the contamination present at the South El Monte Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund site. The cases served on October 30, 2002 are denominated as follows:

San Gabriel Valley Water Company v. Aerojet-General Corporation, et al., Case No. CV-02-6346 ABC (RCx), U.S. District Court, Central District of CA.

San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority v. Aerojet-General Corporation, et al., Case No. CV-02-4565 ABC (RCx), U.S. District Court, Central District of CA.

Southern California Water Company v. Aerojet-General Corporation, et al., Case No. CV-02-6340 ABC (RCx), U.S. District Court, Central District of CA.

The City of Monterey Park v. Aerojet-General Corporation, et al., Case No. CV-02-5909 ABC (RCx), U.S. District Court, Central District of CA.

 The cases have been coordinated for ease of administration by the court. The plaintiffs’ claims against Aerojet are based upon allegations of discharges from a former site in the El Monte area. The total cost estimate to implement projects under a Unilateral Administrative Order (“UAO”) prepared by the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and the water entities is approximately $90 million. Aerojet investigations do not identify a credible connection between the contaminants identified by the plaintiff water entities in the SEMOU and those detected at Aerojet’s former facility located in El Monte, California, near the SEMOU (“East Flair Drive site”). Aerojet filed third-party complaints against several water entities on the basis that they introduced perchlorate-containing Colorado River water to the basin. Those water entities have filed motions to dismiss Aerojet’s complaints. The motions and discovery have been stayed, pending efforts to resolve the litigation through mediation. During the period in which the litigation has been stayed, EPA, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (“DTSC”) and the plaintiff water entities have reached settlements through the mediation process with various of the parties sued, which have been brought to the Federal District Court for approval. Certain of the settlements have been challenged by Aerojet and other defendants and are not finally resolved.

 During fiscal 2010, Aerojet received correspondence from EPA on behalf of itself, the DTSC and the water entities regarding settlement. Aerojet participated in mediation with EPA, DTSC and the water entities to resolve the claims, and reached a tentative settlement with EPA and DTSC in mid-December 2010 which was accepted by the water entities in January 2011. The settlement agreement with the Water Entities has been signed by all parties, but before it becomes final, EPA must lodge the Consent Decree with the Court to allow no less than 30 days for public comment before the Court enters its approval. EPA lodged the Consent Decree with the Court on July 1, 2011. At Aerojet’s request, the Court must also make a Good Faith Settlement Determination that will cut off any non-participating party’s right to seek further contribution from Aerojet. If the Court refuses to approve the Consent Decree or make a Good Faith Settlement Determination, the Water Entities, collectively rather than individually, or Aerojet individually, may elect to terminate the settlement. The Water Entities may not terminate the settlement if Aerojet elects to make the final settlement payments regardless of the Court’s actions. The litigation stay will remain in effect during the completion of the settlement process. The Company recorded the financial impact of the tentative settlement in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2010. Accordingly, the Company does not believe it has any further material estimated losses related to this matter at this time; however, if the tentative settlement is not finalized, the litigation stay is likely to be lifted and EPA may refer the matter to the U.S. Department of Justice for litigation, seeking to hold Aerojet liable for past and future costs, to recover costs of suit and attorneys’ fees, and as to any accrued interest, penalties or statutory damages. In such case, Aerojet would vigorously defend itself.

[…]

b. Environmental Matters

 The Company is involved in over forty environmental matters under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (“RCRA”), and other federal, state, local, and foreign laws relating to soil and groundwater contamination, hazardous waste management activities, and other environmental matters at some of its current and former facilities. The Company is also involved in a number of remedial activities at third party sites, not owned by the Company, where it is designated a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) by either the U.S. EPA and/or a state agency. In many of these matters, the Company is involved with other PRPs. In many instances, the Company’s liability and proportionate share of costs have not been determined largely due to uncertainties as to the nature and extent of site conditions and the Company’s involvement. While government agencies frequently claim PRPs are jointly and severally liable at such sites, in the Company’s experience, interim and final allocations of liability and costs are generally made based on relative contributions of waste or contamination. Anticipated  costs associated with environmental remediation that are probable and estimable are accrued. In cases where a date to complete remedial activities at a particular site cannot be determined by reference to agreements or otherwise, the Company projects costs over an appropriate time period not exceeding fifteen years; in such cases, generally the Company does not have the ability to reasonably estimate environmental remediation costs that are beyond this period. Factors that could result in changes to the Company’s estimates include completion of current and future soil and groundwater investigations, new claims, future agency demands, discovery of more or less contamination than expected, discovery of new contaminants, modification of planned remedial actions, changes in estimated time required to remediate, new technologies, and changes in laws and regulations.

 As of May 31, 2011, the aggregate range of these anticipated environmental costs was $208.7 million to $368.2 million and the accrued amount was $208.7 million. See Note 7(c) for a summary of the environmental reserve activity for the first half of fiscal 2011. Of these accrued liabilities, approximately 67% relates to the Sacramento, California site and approximately 22% to the Baldwin Park Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley, California site. Each of those two sites is discussed below. The balance of the accrued liabilities relates to other sites for which the Company’s obligations are probable and estimable.

  • Freescale Semiconductor Holdings I, Ltd. | Form 10-K/A | 7/1/2011

52nd Street Facility, Phoenix, AZ. In 1983, a trichloroethane leak from a solvent tank led to the discovery of chlorinated solvents in the groundwater underlying a former Motorola facility located on 52nd Street in Phoenix, Arizona, which resulted in the facility and adjacent areas being placed on the federal National Priorities List of Superfund sites. The 52nd Street site was subsequently divided into three operable units by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is overseeing site investigations and cleanup actions with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). To date, two separate soil cleanup actions have been completed at the first operable unit (“Operable Unit One”), for which Motorola received letters stating that no further action would be required with respect to the soils. We also implemented and are operating a system to treat contaminated groundwater in Operable Unit One and prevent migration of the groundwater from Operable Unit One. The EPA has not announced a final remedy for Operable Unit One and it is therefore possible that costs to be incurred at this operable unit in future periods may vary from our estimates. In relation to the second operable unit, the EPA issued a record of decision in July 1994, and subsequently issued a consent decree, which required Motorola to design a remediation plan targeted at containing and cleaning up solvent groundwater contamination downgradient of Operable Unit One. That remedy is now being implemented by Freescale Inc. and another potentially responsible party pursuant to an administrative order. Of our total accrual for environmental remediation liabilities of $41 million as of December 31, 2010, approximately 68% was for Operable Unit One and Operable Unit Two. The EPA and ADEQ are currently performing a remedial investigation at the third operable unit (“Operable Unit Three”) to determine the extent of groundwater contamination. A number of additional potentially responsible parties, including Motorola, have been identified in relation to Operable Unit Three. In addition, the EPA recently announced it will conduct “vapor intrusion studies” in residential areas adjacent to the 52nd Street facility. Because these investigations are in the early stages, we cannot predict at this time whether or to what extent we may be held liable for cleanup at Operable Unit Three, or whether any such liability would be material.

56th Street Facility, Phoenix, AZ. In 1985, the EPA initiated an inquiry concerning the former Motorola facility located on 56th Street in Phoenix, Arizona following the discovery of organic compounds in certain local area wells. Motorola completed several remedial actions at this site including soil excavation and cleanup. We subsequently undertook voluntary negotiations with ADEQ, which assumed primary responsibility for this matter in 2004 under the state’s Water Quality Assurance Revolving Fund Program.

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.

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.

  • 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.

On February 2, 2009, the Cayuga facility received a Notice of Violation from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) that the facility had exceeded the permitted volume limit of coal ash that can be disposed of in the on-site landfill. Cayuga has met with NYSDEC and submitted a Landfill Liner Demonstration Report to them. Such report found that the landfill has adequate engineering integrity to support the additional coal ash and there is no inherent environmental threat. NYSDEC has indicated they accept the finding of the report. A permit modification was approved by the NYSDEC on May 14, 2010 and such permit modification allows for closure of this approximately 10-acre portion of the landfill. The construction in accordance with the approved permit modification was completed in November 2010 and the certification report for this construction project is currently being drafted to submit to the NYSDEC in the second quarter of 2011. While at this time it is not possible to predict what impact, if any, this matter may have on the Company, its results of operations or its financial position, based upon the discussions to date, the Company does not believe the impact will be material.

  • APPLIED MATERIALS INC /DE | Form 8-K | 6/1/2011

VAI has been named by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and third parties as a potentially responsible party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, at eight sites where VAI is alleged to have shipped manufacturing waste for recycling or disposal. VAI is also involved in various stages of environmental investigation and/or remediation under the direction of, or in consultation with, foreign, federal, state and/or local agencies at certain current or former VAI facilities (including facilities disposed of in connection with VAI’s sale of its Electron Devices business during fiscal year 1995, and the sale of its Thin Film Systems business during fiscal year 1997). The Distribution Related Agreements provide that each of VMS, Varian Semiconductor and VI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Agilent Technologies, Inc. as of May 2010, will indemnify the others for one-third of these environmental investigation and remediation costs, as adjusted for any insurance proceeds and tax benefits expected to be realized upon payment of these costs.

For certain of these sites and facilities, various uncertainties make it difficult to assess the likelihood and scope of further investigation or remediation activities or to estimate the future costs of such activities if undertaken. Per the estimates provided by VMS, we have accrued $0.9 million and $1.0 million, respectively, in estimated environmental investigation and remediation costs for these sites and facilities as of fiscal year end 2010 and 2009. As to other sites and facilities, sufficient knowledge has been gained to be able to reasonably estimate the scope and costs of future environmental activities. As such, we have accrued $3.8 million and $4.0 million, respectively, as of fiscal year end 2010 and 2009, which represents future costs discounted at 7%, net of inflation, to cover our portion of these costs. This reserve is in addition to the $0.9 million and $1.0 million, respectively, as of fiscal year end 2010 and 2009, as previously described.

 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.

Compliance During Inclement Weather

Photo courtesy of @gletham GIS, Social, Mobile Tech Images. Some rights reserved.

While tornadoes dominate headlines, the EPA is looking forward a few weeks to the onset of hurricane season. As if your personal safety weren’t enough to look out for, a recent EPA news release reminds us that extra precautions should be taken to minimize chemical releases associated with natural disasters.

This is not only a gentle suggestion but a federal requirement. Under the Clean Air Act’s Section 112(r)(1) – 42 U.S.C. 7412(r)(1) – owners and operators of facilities producing, processing, handling or storing hazardous substances have a “general duty” to take the steps necessary to prevent releases of such substances (you can see a list of the regulated substances at 40 C.F.R. 68.130). Such steps typically include a mix of general safety precautions and maintenance, monitoring, and employee training measures.

Let a little something slip? Any release that surpasses the “reportable quantity” for that substance mandates immediate notification of the National Response Center pursuant to Section 103 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. 9603). But just because you’ve notified the federal authorities doesn’t mean you can leave your neighbors in the dark – Section 304 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (42 U.S.C. 11004) requires owners and operators to alert state and local emergency response groups as well.

The relative predictability of hurricanes buys affected facility owners/operators a little bit of time – a rare opportunity not afforded to those in tornado zones. Of course, many of the precautions recommended are the same, it’s just that the schedule for implementation can be drastically different.

For more information, visit the EPA’s Natural Disaster and Weather Emergencies center.

Bona Fide Prospective Purchaser Defense under CERCLA

Photo by stevendepolo. Some rights reserved.

CERCLA woes or worries? You’re not the only one.

Today, McGuireWoods comes to the rescue with a heap of information about bona fide prospective purchasers (BFPP), a status defined under CERCLA that protects eligible persons against CERCLA owner liability.

According to McGuireWoods, the BFPP defense was developed in order to allow purchasers to “conduct AAI [“all appropriate inquiries”] and to purchase property with knowledge of hazardous substance contamination without incurring liability as an owner or operator.”

The McGuireWoods publication goes on to give a thorough analysis of how “those who desire to rely on the BFPP defense” may be affected by recent court decisions as well as 2009 guidance published by the EPA on how the agency intends “to exercise its enforcement discretion with regard to the BFPP provision.”

* * *

If you’re curious to read the original definition of “bona fide prospective purchaser” as it appears in the U.S. Code, you can see it here: 42 USC 9601 (scroll down to section 40).

For more information, you can also read the EPA’s FAQ about the 2009 guidance here.

Last Week in Environmental Contingencies and Proceedings Disclosure – PRP Under CERCLA Edition!

As we posted a while ago, public companies must generally disclose material legal proceedings in their annual and quarterly reports to the SEC. Today we check back in with some recent filings to see who is disclosing what in the land of environmental liabilities. By now this has become a regular feature on the Green Mien, and we hope you enjoy it!

 

  • AMERICAN BILTRITE INC | Form 10-K | 3/23/2011

ABI has been named by the United States Environmental Protection Agency as a Potentially Responsible Party (“PRP”) within the meaning of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, as amended, as to seven sites in six separate states. In addition, ABI has been named a potentially responsible party by the State of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection with regard to two sites in Maine. See Note 8 of the Notes to the Consolidated Financial Statements set forth in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K for additional information relating to these matters.

ABI has recorded a reserve of approximately $5.1 million, which represents a probable and reasonably estimable amount to cover the anticipated remediation costs at all sites, net of recoveries, based on facts and circumstances known to the Company at the present time.

 

  • ICAHN ENTERPRISES HOLDINGS L.P. | Form 10-K | 3/24/2011

Federal-Mogul [a majority interest in which is owned by Icahn] is a defendant in lawsuits filed, or the recipient of administrative orders issued, in various jurisdictions pursuant to the Federal Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980, or CERCLA, or other similar national, provincial or state environmental laws. These laws require responsible parties to pay for remediating contamination resulting from hazardous substances that were discharged into the environment by them, by prior owners or occupants of their property, or by others to whom they sent such substances for treatment or other disposition. Federal-Mogul has been notified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, other national environmental agencies, and various provincial and state agencies that it may be a potentially responsible party, or PRP, under such laws for the cost of remediating hazardous substances pursuant to CERCLA and other national and state or provincial environmental laws. PRP designation typically requires the funding of site investigations and subsequent remedial activities.

Many of the sites that are likely to be the costliest to remediate are often current or former commercial waste disposal facilities to which numerous companies sent wastes. Despite the joint and several liability which might be imposed on Federal-Mogul under CERCLA and some of the other laws pertaining to these sites, Federal-Mogul’s share of the total waste sent to these sites has generally been small. Therefore, Federal-Mogul believes its exposure for liability at these sites is limited.

Federal-Mogul has also identified certain other present and former properties at which it may be responsible for cleaning up or addressing environmental contamination, in some cases as a result of contractual commitments. Federal Mogul is actively seeking to resolve these actual and potential statutory, regulatory, and contractual obligations. Although difficult to quantify based on the complexity of the issues, Federal-Mogul has accrued amounts corresponding to its best estimate of the costs associated with such regulatory and contractual obligations on the basis of available information from site investigations and best professional judgment of consultants.

Total accrued environmental liabilities were $19 million and $22 million at December 31, 2010 and 2009, respectively. Federal-Mogul believes that such accruals will be adequate to cover its estimated liability for its exposure in respect to such matters. In the event that such liabilities were to significantly exceed the amounts recorded by Federal-Mogul, Federal-Mogul’s results of operations and financial condition could be materially affected. At December 31, 2010, Federal-Mogul estimates that reasonably possible material additional losses above and beyond its best estimate of required remediation costs, as recorded, approximate $44 million.


On December 1, 2000, a section of the lower Willamette River known as the Portland Harbor was included on the National Priorities List at the request of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”). While the Company’s Portland, Oregon manufacturing facility does not border the Willamette River, an outfall from the facility’s storm water system drains into a neighboring property’s privately owned slip. The Company and over 100 other parties have been notified by the EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (the “ODEQ”) of potential liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”). As of December 2010, more than 280 potentially responsible parties on and nearby the river have been asked to file information disclosure reports with the EPA. By agreement with the EPA, the ODEQ is charged with ensuring that all upland sites have “source control” to prevent future contamination to the river. A remedial investigation and feasibility study of the Portland Harbor is currently being directed by a group of potentially responsible parties known as the Lower Willamette Group (the “LWG”). The Company made a payment of $175,000 to the LWG in June 2007 as part of an interim settlement, and is under no obligation to make any further payment. A draft remedial investigation report was submitted to the EPA by the LWG in the fall of 2009; the final remediation investigation is expected to be completed in 2011. The feasibility study is underway, and a draft is expected to be completed by the LWG in 2011.

 

  • WINN DIXIE STORES INC | Form 8-K | 3/21/2011

Winn-Dixie is a potentially responsible party for environmental impairment under voluntary remedial programs at the following sites:

1. Constitution Road Drum Site, Location: Atlanta, GA – EPA

Reserve established $15,000.00.

2. BCX Tank Site, Location: Jacksonville, FL – EPA

Reserve established $40,000.00.

3. Ellis Road Site, Location: Jacksonville, FL – EPA

Winn-Dixie small quantity waste generator, 30 gal drum with 1% PCB waste. No reserve established.

4. Devils Swamp Site, Location: East Baton Rouge Parish, LA – EPA

Winn-Dixie is contesting its liability due to the small quantity of waste generated. No reserve established.

5. Peak Oil/Bay Drum, Location: Tampa, FL – EPA

Reserve established $60,000.00

6. Elmore Waste Disposal Superfund Site, Location: Greer, SC

Reserve established $100,000.00

%d bloggers like this: