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7th Circuit affirms rulings for EPA in Bloomington PCB cleanup

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday turned away a citizen-led appeal of rulings favorable to the Environmental Protection Agency in an ongoing cleanup of a former Westinghouse Electric Corp. plant that polluted the Bloomington site with toxic PCBs.

The court affirmed rulings by U.S. District Chief Judge Richard Young of the Southern District of Indiana. Young granted summary judgment in favor of EPA and also rejected a motion that he disqualify himself based on prior rulings.

“The district court correctly granted summary judgment to the EPA on plaintiffs’ claims regarding the first remedial stage. Plaintiffs also are not prevailing parties on their claim that the EPA and its administrator were required to have the court enter agreements between parties as consent decrees,” Circuit Judge David Hamilton wrote in Sarah E. Frey, Kevin Enright and Protect Our Woods Inc. v. Environmental Protection Agency and Gina McCarthy, Administrator, 13-2142.

“Finally, Chief Judge Young was not required to recuse himself, and his denial of the motion to disqualify did not violate plaintiffs’ right to due process of law,” Hamilton wrote.

The appeal is the latest in a long line of cases involving the former Westinghouse plant that also operated under the CBS name. It manufactured capacitors from the 1950s to 1970s that contained polychlorinated biphenyls regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and a consent decree on cleanup of multiple polluted sites in Bloomington has been in place since 1985.

Young correctly found plaintiffs’ motions were moot because the cleanup is ongoing or because plaintiffs are not prevailing parties or parties to the original consent decree, and as such they also are not entitled to attorney fees.

“Simply put, there is no reason the district judge should have recused himself from this case,” Hamilton wrote. “His decision not to do so did not deny plaintiffs due process of law. … “The judgment of the district court dismissing this action is affirmed in all respects.”

 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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