Investigating Pollution Liability
Investigating Pollution Liability
We help identify liability on environmentally contaminated sites. Our investigations have involved landfills, sites with underground storage tanks, industrial degreasers, former military bases, saw mills, DOD contractors . . . in short, any site that has been impacted by toxic substances. The industries in which we perform pollution liability investigations include aerospace, chemical, electrical, insurance, mining, nuclear, petroleum, rubber, and many others.
We have been involved with numerous Potentially Responsible Party investigations:
• Identifying contributors to site contamination
• Performing PRP searches
• Identifying sources of historical pollution
• Determining land use histories
• Determining site operations histories
• Predecessor / successor company searches
Based in Camarillo, California, Verdict Resources, Inc. is one of a very small number of firms with expertise in environmental liability investigations, with case experience across the United States and Canada. Our staff have been investigating pollution liability disputes since 1982, both in criminal and civil matters. In fact, VRI’s founder Larry Troxel, a HAZMAT investigations expert, directed the investigation for the first felony conviction of a hazardous waste materials transporter in California.
• Familiarity with environmental laws and pertinent regulatory procedures
• Experienced in venues across the U.S. and Canada
• Knowledge of industrial and commercial processes
• Familiarity with waste stream management practices
• Hazwoper training, for access to hazardous sites
• AHERA certification, for asbestos sampling
• Registered Environmental Assessor
• Instructor of environmental investigation courses for government and private industry personnel
“You enabled us to achieve a major victory in a complex, forty-six count, six weeks’ environmental crimes trial.” —Richard A. Regnier, Esq.
A Few Representative Cases
Compliance Investigation – California
For a confidential client, as a part of a nationwide investigation, VRI conducted an investigation entailing the search and review of trash dumpsters’ contents of a national retail pharmaceutical concern to determine its compliance with federal court order guidelines. With the cooperation of the chain store personnel to access secured containers, each dumpster item was closely examined with results favoring the company’s compliance.
Chlorinated Solvents Contamination – California
Our client, an airline company, was suspected of contaminating the soil and groundwater at an international airport with trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. VRI identified several other airlines and their dumping activities to assist the client in funding the cleanup.
Petroleum Contamination – California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
A large multinational oil company was seeking clean up costs from its insurers for numerous refineries and service stations. Our client, a joint defense group of composed of the insurance companies, engaged us to identify historical on-site activities at these sites, sometimes going back over 100 years, as part of the process to negotiate the clean up costs.
Perchloroethylene Contamination – Arizona
A regional research project was initiated to identify sources of subsoil and groundwater perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination. We investigated the history (1942-1979) of a local dry cleaning establishment through document research and by identifying and interviewing past company operators, which resulted in the discovery of substantial solvent releases and on-site dumping.
Petroleum Contamination – California
A client purchased a property after having a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment conducted, yet later found evidence of petroleum contamination. VRI identified a service station operating on site during the 1940s and 1950s, assisting the site owner in recovering clean up costs.
Mill Pond PRP Search – California
PRPs were identified for the Lagoon Creek Day Use Area near Klamath, CA, on behalf of the Redwood National and State Park. Owners and users of the site, including plywood and box manufacturers, were found in efforts to identify sources of contamination that included dioxin, pentachlorophenol and tetrachlorophenol.
River Contaminated – Michigan
VRI conducted a 150-year history of operations in a city adjacent to a river our client was suspected of contaminating. We identified several significant PRPs, including one of the country’s largest truck manufacturers. Also discovered were pre-1920 sewage maps showing sewer pipes leading to the river from several industrial facilities. Case is pending.
Landfill PRP Search – California
More than fifty-five PRPs were identified to be contributors to hazardous waste contamination of one of California’s largest landfills that operated during the 1960s. Former landfill operators and employees, refuse company owners and drivers, municipal inspectors and waste generators were located and interviewed to assist in identifying the PRPs.
Contamination at World War II Military Bases – California
VRI conducted historical research and investigations of World War II–era military bases throughout the United States. Our research resulted in the discovery of convincing documentary, photographic, and anecdotal evidence that military activities involved the use and disposal of chlorinated solvents, heavy metals, and petroleum waste at the defunct bases. Consequently, our clients negotiated favorable settlements for clean-up liability with government agencies and other potentially responsible parties.
Toxic Tort Defense – Maryland
VRI assisted in absolving a large industrial client of the liability of a former company’s use of asbestos in the construction of naval warships. We conducted a peer review of defense documents and initiated a fifty-year corporate successor and parent liability investigation. Convincing exculpatory evidence was developed from obscure documents found in various government agencies as well as from interviews of former corporate officers.
Oil Company Investigation – Alaska
VRI conducted a discreet investigation of an oil company’s operations across four sites in central through southwest Alaska. VRI quickly located information at municipal, borough, state and federal sources to characterize the sites as well as company reactions to spills and regulatory oversight to assist in a recovery issue.
PRP Investigation – California
VRI was tasked by a Midwest law firm to conduct a PRP investigation on behalf of one of the PRPs at the Baldwin Park Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund Site. Contributors to the groundwater contamination with respect to Emergent Chemicals (Perchlorate, NDMA, 1,4-Dioxane) were obtained through agency file reviews, area water purveyors and witness interviews.
Suspected Smelter Contamination – Colorado
VRI assisted an industrial client in its defense against government allegations that client’s smelting operations deposited elevated amounts of arsenic and lead throughout residential neighborhoods over forty years ago. By proving that the contamination most likely came from other unrelated sources, investigators greatly reduced our client’s liability by presenting the persuasive evidence in agency negotiations.
Marine Oil Slick Investigation – California
A law firm representing an insurance consortium hired VRI to investigate an Algerian freighter suspected of releasing an oil slick off the California coast. Our rapid response and on-scene interviews of marine clean-up personnel and other percipient witnesses provided our client with immediate intelligence that was used to make critical, strategic litigation decisions. Verdict Resources located and conducted inquiries of every foreign and domestic vessel that had traveled through the impacted area within 48 hours of the slick’s discovery.
Oil Company Investigation – British Columbia
VRI investigated an oil company’s refining and retail operations throughout British Columbia to assist a joint defense group. Significant information was identified, lessening the client’s clean-up liability.
Contamination Source Identified – Arizona
On behalf of the Resolution Trust Corporation, Verdict Resources uncovered sources of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) contamination at a large construction site. Evidence revealed that “auto fluff” containing PCBs from a nearby auto-dismantling facility was used as fill material for site grading.
Historical Industrial Activities Identified – California
A PRP search was conducted for a large municipal client in California. Sub-soil contamination was recently discovered on property where the city had erected buildings in the early 1940s. Focusing on the 1895-1925 time period, research revealed that a steel manufacturer and an oil refinery had operated on the site. Through our research, we traced the responsible companies to several present-day multinational corporations; they have since been named successors in liability.
Beachfront Landowner Defended – California
VRI assisted with the successful civil and criminal defense of a landowner in the prominent Southern California beach community. Our client, whose property has over 400 residents, had been charged with multiple counts of waste-related discharge violations and was also being sued by a group of the residents.
Defense Contractor Suspected – California
A large aerospace firm was suspected of being a source of trichloroethylene contamination (TCE) in the groundwater. We conducted a site operations and land-use history which confirmed no use of TCE by that firm, but revealed substantial use and releases of the chlorinated solvent by a previous occupant.
Petroleum Contamination Investigation – California
VRI is assisting a joint defense group in a matter that is still pending, involving large volumes of petroleum contamination in several coastal communities. Operations going over 100 years back have been identified through primary source documentation and witness interviews.
Corporate Succession & Parent Liability Investigation – Ohio
VRI assisted an east coast law firm with unraveling a complex company history to determine liability in a toxic tort matter. Through research of business databases, federal agencies, state agencies across four states, and development of witnesses, the client was greatly aided in successfully prosecuting its case.
Verdict Resources, Inc.
396 W. Ventura Blvd.
Camarillo, Ca 93010
Phone: (805) 445-1498
50 W. Broadway, Suite 300
Salt Lake City, UT 84010
Phone: (801) 441-6877