Water Board v. Oil Company -- Environmental Historical Research

Summary:

On an environmental case involving a residential neighborhood built on the site of a former oil reservoir and adjacent to an industrial area, Parrent Smith investigators provided our client with an investigative site history and timeline that identified numerous additional PRPs and their contributory activities.

The Story:

A Regional Water Board was alerted to petroleum hydrocarbon contamination in soil and groundwater beneath a former tank farm that had occupied an area that is now occupied by single-family residential properties. A chemical company was also located near the residential site and was being investigated by another agency as a potential source of contamination.

Parrent Smith Investigations was contacted by attorneys for the oil company to do a comprehensive site history on the parcel and two adjacent parcels. Our initial site history identified more than 30 additional PRPs. During our research, we were able to locate an "oil map" of the area from the 1940s, which showed that many oil companies had been drilling in the immediate vicinity of the tank farm. We also discovered that a small oil company was continuing to drill up to the present on the adjacent site. After our initial report, we continued research to find not only large landowners, but additional PRPs that operated in the site vicinity but leased rather than owned property. We also did research on the owners of a 30-acre parcel north of the site that had been occupied by a manufacturing facility until the late 1950s. In our second phase of research, we identified many more companies that had contributed to the groundwater pollution in the area.

Although the oil company had the "deep pockets" and was charged by the Water Board with the task of cleaning up the site, we located many possible responsible parties they could go after in third party recovery actions.

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