Court Finds Oil Companies Liable In Superfund Cleanup

Date: February 7, 2002

Source: News Room

A federal appeals court has ruled that four oil companies are responsible for the bulk of the $100 million cleanup cost of the McColl Superfund site in Fullerton, Calif. The decision overturns a Los Angeles federal judge, who said the U.S. government was liable for the costs of cleaning up the site, 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The site, now a golf course adjacent to a residential area, includes 100,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste. It was a dumpsite for spent aviation fuel and other oil byproducts during World War II era. Now, after 12 years of litigation that produced the cleanup of the 22-acre former Superfund site, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the four oil companies who dumped at McColl must foot the cleanup bill. Shell Oil Co., Union Oil Co. of California, BP and ChevronTexaco Corp. had claimed the federal government should have to pay for the cleanup because the companies were producing high-octane gas during World War II for the U.S. military. The gas produced an acid waste byproduct. The appeals court noted that the United States only purchased the Avgas and did not dictate how to dispose of the byproduct. Of the estimated $100 million cleanup, the federal government has agreed to pay about $5.5 million.

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