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DTSC Enforcement Program Focuses on California’s Metal Recyclers

The Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that an investigation referred to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office has resulted in the filing of 19 criminal charges against a Sun Valley scrap metal recycler for allegedly releasing hazardous chemicals.

The charges are the first to stem from a statewide initiative that found alleged hazardous waste violations at 40 out of 42 metal recycling companies, most in environmentally burdened communities.

“This program confirms there should be continued focus on this industry,” said Hansen Pang, chief investigator of DTSC’s Office of Criminal Investigations. “Many of these facilities are in California’s most vulnerable communities. We are creating strategies to ensure these companies meet regulations, and that residents in these areas are protected.”

OCI also uncovered alleged violations related to used oil filters that were not properly drained, illegally transported and improperly crushed and shredded. Four facilities have signed interim consent agreements requiring that the used oil filters they receive are properly drained and managed. Following are some of the violations found during the initiative:

• Failure to remove materials requiring special handling, such as mercury-containing switches, capacitors, refrigerants, oils, and batteries from vehicles and appliances;

• Mismanagement of metal recycling residues, such as debris and soil contaminated with hazardous waste levels of heavy metals, PCBs, and oils;

• Unauthorized acceptance, storage, transportation, and treatment of undrained used oil filters and other hazardous waste;

• Failure to comply with hazardous waste recordkeeping requirements; and

• Failure to minimize releases of hazardous waste and constituents from processing scrap metal.

CLRRA Signed for Redevelopment Project

Paladin Law Group recently completed a successful transaction for a Brownfields redeveloper that included immunity protections under the California Land Reuse and Revitalization Act ("CLRRA").  In the agreement reached with the Regional Water Quality Control Board ("RWQCB"), the buyer obtained immunity for a site that had been the subject of a Cleanup and Abatement Order and litigation in state and federal courts.  Ten separate environmental consulting firms worked on the site for years prior to the CLRRA agreement without a remedial action plan.  Under the CLRRA consultative services process, the buyer worked with the RWQCB to prepare an acceptable response plan to address contamination at the site.

Stone Named as Who's Who in Energy & Environment

Bret Stone was recognized for his work in environmental law by the Pacific Coast Business Times.

Summary Judgment Granted on Contribution Bar Defense

A chemical company that previously settled its alleged liability found itself in court again for the same contamination.  Paladin filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the new plaintiff had notice and opportunity to oppose the good faith settlement determination and that the new claim was barred under § 877.6 of the California Code of Civil Procedure.  The court agreed and granted summary judgment.

Paladin Settles Dry Cleaning Contamination Case

After years of litigation with the former owners and operators of a dry cleaning plant and their insurers, a highly contested and complex environmental contamination case has finally come to a close.  Paladin's insurance archaeology efforts identified the historic insurance assets.  Extensive investigation activities ensued and, once the parties were comfortable with the total cost of cleanup, a settlement was reached providing sufficient funds for the cleanup.

Stone Featured at Groundwater Law Conference

Bret Stone was part of panel on Strategies to Address Major Groundwater Contaminant Plumes at the upcoming Groundwater Law Conference at Loyola Law School.  For more information, click here.

Court Holds Insurer has Duty to Defend in Rev 973 Case

One of Paladin's policyholder clients recently obtained a ruling in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California held that Wilshire Insurance Company has a duty to defend a lawsuit entitled, Rev 973, LLC v. Mouren-Laurens et al., CV 98-10690-DSF (Ex), alleging liability against thousands of potentially responsible parties for environmental contamination.  Wilshire had argued that there could be no potential for coverage and thus no duty to defend its insured because the claims asserted against him do not allege an “accident” as required by the policies and are excluded from coverage by the qualified pollution and the handling of property exclusions contained in the policies.  The court rejected these arguments.  To read more, click here.

Pro Bono Brownfields Deal Closes for Bike Coalition

Long-time bike commuter, Bret Stone, provided pro bono legal support to help the Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition purchase the property that houses its community cycling center and DIY bike repair shop.  The Brownfields site had been contaminated by historic dry cleaning operations.  Stone negotiated the transaction and related environmental protections to a successful close.  To read the article in the Santa Barbara Independent, click here.

John Till Featured at Environmental Law Section Seminar

Paladin Managing Partner, John Till, led a discussion regarding the implementation of AB 440 legislation to redevelop contaminated properties in urban blighted areas.  The Sacramento County Bar Association Environmental Law Section underwrote the event.

Lycett Featured in Stormwater Webinar

Paladin’s Jon Lycett was a featured speaker for a webinar entitled “Managing Risk Amid Changing Storm Water Regulations.”  Topics covered included an exploration of evolving compliance requirements related to updated Municipal (MS4), Industrial, and Construction General Storm Water Permits and best practices for managing risk.

Paladin wins Climate Leader Award

Paladin Law Group is proud to announce that the California Air Resources Board has recognized it with a Climate Leader Award.  The CoolCalifornia Small Business Awards recognize California small businesses that took action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, promoted climate friendly practices and integrated the tools on CoolCalifornia.org into their business operations.  For more information about CoolCalifornia.org, click here.

Bret Stone Selected as a Who’s Who in Professional Services by the Pacific Coast Business Times

For the seventh straight year, Bret Stone has been recognized by the Pacific Coast Business Times for his work.