Superfund Site Research

Image courtesy of the Hastings Historical Society
Under the liability scheme established by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), questions can arise regarding what occurred at a hazardous waste site 50 or even 100 years ago. To clarify the roles played by potentially responsible parties, Morgan, Angel & Associates provides well-documented historical information on such issues as:
  • Site ownership, management, and production processes;
  • The state of knowledge concerning environmental and health hazards at the time in which waste-generating activities took place;
  • Corporate succession issues;
  • The roles government agencies played in regulating or controlling activities.

Addressing these questions can require Morgan Angel researchers to sift through a wide variety of documents and other forms of evidence, including correspondence, memoranda, and other records produced by government agencies and private firms; corporate annual reports; articles in scientific and trade press publications; land titles; Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps; and historical photographs. Our expert historians possess the skills and initiative required to find relevant documents and other historical materials, compile a lucid and well-documented account of events, and present findings in a form appropriate to client needs.

A recent article in Environmental Law in New York noted the importance of historical research in CERCLA cases. The author referenced testimony by Morgan Angel Managing Partner, Dr. Jay Brigham, in Raytheon Aircraft Co., v. U.S., to illustrate the usefulness of credible historical research and expert testimony:

Collecting information about the historical uses of industrial sites has become necessary for many environmental practitioners, either in response to current legal obligations or in anticipation of future ones. (...) The utility of informed historical research in Superfund cases was highlighted in a recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas concerning whether the U.S. Army Air Forces utilized trichloroethylene (TCE) during World War II at a Kansas airport. In its decision, the court praised the federal government's "highly credible" historical research into World War II-era government records and, based largely on this research and associated expert testimony, dismissed the plaintiff's CERCLA-related contribution claim against the government.
Stephen G. Swisdak, "Researching Past Uses of New York Industrial Sites," in Environmental Law in New York, Volume 20, No. 5, May 2009. [Copyright 2009 Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a member of the LexisNexis Group. All rights reserved.] Used with permission of Michael B. Gerrard, editor.

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