Country
United States of America
Sources
InforMEA
Tagging
Liability, Marine Pollution, Property, Burden of Proof, Causation, Contract, Torts, Damages, Taxation, Cooperation
Abstract
In this case, the Court is asked to decide how the cost of environmental cleanup at the Waterbury North Manufactured Gas Plant should be allocated between its current owner, the Yankee Gas Services Company ("Yankee Gas"), and UGI Utilities, Inc. ("UGI"), the operator of the plant during its heyday a century ago. Yankee Gas brought this suit under § 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675 ("CERCLA"), seeking to impose liability on UGI for the pollution—particularly, tar and oil pollution—at the facility, which UGI leased and operated from either 1884 or 1889 until 1914. UGI subsequently filed a contribution counterclaim against Yankee Gas under CERCLA § 113(f), which allows courts to "allocate response costs among liable parties using such equitable factors as the court determines are appropriate. The owner understood the nature of its tenant’s operations, knew they were likely to cause environmental harm, and benefitted from the tenant’s operations in the form of rent. While these facts were considered, the court said “the most relevant consideration” was the owner’s plan to use the property for its own purposes (i.e., as a training facility for its employees). In deciding to assign the owner a 25 percent share, the court seemed to look beyond the potential economic benefits of a cleaned-up property and instead focused on the nature of the owner’s future use.