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Central Valley Business Times, CA: Court: Shell, railroads must pay for Central Valley toxic waste cleanup

SAN FRANCISCO

•  EPA has been cleaning up Arvin site

•  ‘The process was quite messy, with frequent spills’

The costs of cleaning up a toxic waste site near Arvin the Central Valley should be paid by Shell Oil Co., Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co., and Union Pacific Transportation Co., the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says in a ruling Friday.

Brown & Bryant Inc., an agricultural chemical company that has since gone out of business, used the polluted land. The two railroad companies owned part of the land on which the chemical operation was located.

B&B purchased, received delivery of, stored on the Arvin site, and distributed two Shell-produced agricultural chemicals: the soil fumigants D-D and Nemagon. D-D and Nemagon — members of a class of chemicals called nematocides — are designed to kill nematodes, microscopic worms that attack the roots of crops.

When trucks carrying D-D arrived at the Arvin facility, the contents of the trucks were transferred to B&B’s large tanks by hoses. “The process was quite messy, with frequent spills,” the ruling notes.

After more than twenty years of leakage and dissemination of hazardous materials, the state in 1983 found B&B in violation of several hazardous waste laws. The EPA investigated separately and found evidence of substantial soil and groundwater contamination at B&B’s Arvin facility.

The appeals court affirmed an earlier ruling regarding both the railroads’ and Shell’s liability. “The railroads and Shell are jointly and severally liable for the harm at the Arvin site,” it says.

The issue now returns to the U.S. District court to figure out who pays what.

March 16, 2007 1:01pm

http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/stories/001/?ID=4613

Court Decision: http://www.centralvalleybusinesstimes.com/links/0317125.pdf

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