Water Contamination Riskier for Companies in Wake of Rulings
April 13, 2018
"Water Contamination Riskier for Companies in Wake of Rulings"
Environmental law partner Sarah Bell spoke to Bloomberg Environment about recent federal appeals courts rulings related to contaminated waterways. In the Kinder Morgan case, the Fourth Circuit ruled that two environmental advocacy groups can sue the energy infrastructure company, finding that pollution in Savannah River tributaries could be directly traced via groundwater to its Plantation Pipeline.
In the article, Ms. Bell noted that companies, cities, and even homeowners finding themselves in a predicament similar to Kinder Morgan’s also could face potential risk. A spill that results in pollutants reaching groundwater with a direct connection to federally protected waters can result in Clean Water Act liability under the Fourth Circuit decision.
She added, the success of such a lawsuit, however, would depend on a number of factors. For instance, she said, a citizen suit would have to prove whether the company tried to obtain a pollution discharge permit, whether there was a direct link “conclusively established” between the groundwater where the spill occurred and the receiving water that was contaminated, and whether the pollutants did reach those receiving waters.