CERCLA Action Asks DuPont to Pay Texas and Feds for Plastics Plant Waste

Plaintiff the United States, at the request of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Department of the Interior, and plaintiff the State of Texas, on behalf of its concerned departments, filed a lawsuit against E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co. and The Chemours Co. FC, LLC on Tuesday, to recover the cost of hazardous waste clean-up efforts at the defendants’ Nederland, Texas plastics manufacturing factory. Specifically, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Texas Water Code (TWC) action was filed because state and federal agencies have incurred unreimbursed costs assessing injury, destruction, and loss of natural resources attributed to the defendants’ operation.

According to the complaint, DuPont began producing plastics and other proprietary synthetic products at the site in 1954. The site, also known as West Marsh, comprises 30 acres in the DuPont Beaumont Works Industrial Park Complex, bounded in part by the Neches River.

The plaintiffs explain that in 2015, DuPont created a new company, Chemours, for its Performance Chemicals Division, which then assumed ownership of the complex. The filing states that during the time that DuPont owned and operated the site, hazardous substances including arsenic, chromium, lead, zinc, copper, mercury, and nickel were there disposed of, allegedly injuring or potentially injuring “estuarine emergent wetland habitat and other resources.”

In 2007, the plaintiffs contend, DuPont entered into a memorandum of agreement with federal and state natural resource trustees to perform a cooperative, restoration-based assessment to address the negative consequences impacting natural resources at the site. Chemours reportedly joined the cooperative assessment when it acquired ownership in 2015.

The trustees’ final damage assessment from June 2016 sets forth a project aimed at remediating natural resource injuries from the heavy metal and other pollutant contamination. The filing contends that the plaintiffs have incurred unreimbursed costs, and will continue to incur costs for the oversight of hazardous substances clean-up and ecological restoration efforts. In turn, the plaintiffs seek cost recovery under the TWC and CERCLA.

The United States is represented by the Department of Justice and the State of Texas by its attorney general.