United States of America
Jurisdiction, Liability, Declaratory Relief, Remedies, Administrative, Contract, Permits, Damages, Evidence, Civil
The plaintiffs were enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation who, under the “Citizen suit” provision of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) had commenced this action to enforce the Unilateral Administrative Order for Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (UAO) issued to the defendant by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The defendant was a Canadian Corporation which owned and operated a smelter in British Columbia, Canada, located approximately 10 Columbia River miles north of the United States-Canada border. The smelter was allegedly the source of hazardous substances which had by means of the Columbia River migrated into the Upper Columbia River and lake Roosevelt, located within the territory of the United States. The UAO directed the defendant to conduct a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study to investigate and determine the full nature of contamination at the “Upper Columbia River Site” due to materials disposed of into the Columbia River from the defendant’s smelter. The defendant questioned the jurisdiction of the court by subject matter, the personal jurisdiction of the court and stated that the plaintiff’s complaints failed to state claims upon which relief could be granted. Specifically, the defendant contended that provisions of CERCLA could not be applied to a Canadian corporation for actions taken by that corporation which occurred within Canada. The court held that the fundamental purpose of CERCLA was to ensure the integrity of the domestic environment. It therefore expected that Congress intended to proscribe conduct associated with the degradation of the environment, regardless of the location of the agents responsible for the said conduct. The court decided that it had subject matter jurisdiction under CERCLA. It had personal jurisdiction over the defendant and the exercise of the said jurisdiction was reasonable. The plaintiff’s complaints stated claims under CERCLA upon which relief could be granted. Therefore, the defendant’s motion to dismiss was denied.