Sea Lion Chemical Receives CERCLA Complaint Over Texas Hazardous Waste Cleanup Costs

The United States filed a complaint against Sea Lion Chemical seeking compensation pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for the unreimbursed response costs the federal government says it accrued in response to the release or threatened release of hazardous substances from a Superfund site in Texas City, Texas. 

Wednesday’s complaint, filed in the Southern District of Texas, states that Sea Lion Chemical Technology Inc. and Sea Lion Inc. (together Sea Lion) are responsible for contributing more than 10 million gallons of wastes to the chemical disposal site.

The government explains that the site near Galveston Bay encompasses an area of about 150 acres, and from approximately 1964 until 1996, the Malone Service Company stored and disposed of hazardous substances there. The complaint says that droves of companies sent almost 500 million gallons of waste to the site until the state’s environmental quality oversight body revoked its hazardous waste permit in 1997.

Accordingly, the EPA listed the site on the National Priorities List in June 2001. According to the complaint, more than a decade later, and based on the agency’s remediation investigation, the EPA entered into court-approved consent decrees with more than 100 private entities, the State of Texas, and eight federal agencies for the recovery of response costs. The United States asserts that the approximate cost of remedial action performed at the Superfund Site was $56.4 million and the work was completed in 2017.

The complaint alleges that Sea Lion’s speciality chemical manufacturing plant, also located in Texas City, Texas, used the Superfund Site to deposit hazardous wastes including spent process acid, corrosive and hazardous waste liquids, and spent sulfuric acid between 1977 and 1993. 

The United States seeks remuneration from Sea Lion, a declaratory judgment requiring the company to pay all future response costs and an award of the plaintiff’s litigation costs.

The United States is represented by the Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division as well as counsel from the EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Texas.