Extricating Membership as a PRP at Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites

A paper titled “Extricating Membership as a PRP at Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites,” authored by Neil M. Ram, Wai Kwan, Chase A. Gerbig, and Catherine Moore, of Roux Associates, Inc., was published in the Spring 2014 issue of Remediation: The Journal of Environmental Cleanup Costs, Technologies & Techniques.  The paper describes various methods by which companies named as a potentially responsible party (PRP) for a hazardous waste site can either extricate themselves from responsibility for site cleanup or minimize their liability for response action costs.  If companies adopt a proactive approach to potential Superfund liability by carefully documenting and understanding their involvement at a site, they can: 

  1. Avoid being held responsible for a greater share of response costs than they should reasonably be allocated
  2. Appropriately structure funding to anticipate potential future environmental liability
  3. More accurately disclose financial information
Determining a PRP’s potential liability for the assessment and cleanup of hazardous waste sites is a challenging effort and often results in disputes among other PRPs regarding appropriate allocation of response action costs to each party. The first step in such an evaluation is to determine whether or not a PRP can extricate themselves from any association with the subject site or, alternatively, demonstrate de minimis status. Methods for doing so, which are described in this paper, include the following:
  • Evaluating prior settlements or indemnifications with other PRPs
  • Identifying insurance coverage or other financial assurance instruments for the disposal facility
  • Examining applicable statutes of limitations against when a PRP received notification from the regulatory agency

 

The paper also presents a case study discussing how a PRP with a portfolio of 72 hazardous waste disposal sites was able to extricate itself from the majority of these sites, resulting in only four sites where the PRP was determined to be an RP and where an associated allocable share was assigned.  Such information can be used by both private and public companies to provide reasonably estimable costs of their financial exposure associated with hazardous waste sites.

 

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