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Resource Conservation Recovery Act Notices Sent to Several Hundred Parties

The Plaintiffs in Rev 973 LLC v. Mouren-Laurens, CV No. 98-10690 (C.D. Cal.), recently sent approximately 200 notices of intention to sue pursuant to the Resource Conservation Recovery Act ("RCRA") and invitations to mediation. It is our understanding that they are considering sending out notices to additional parties as well.

The notices claim that the recipients are potentially responsible for environmental contamination at two sites, the Mouren-Laurens Oil Company Site and the Leach Oil Site, in Compton, California (see discussion below). The notices threaten suit, but note that parties may avoid being sued by participating in a mediation scheduled for October 5 and 6, 2010.

Our firm has been retained to represent one of the parties at the site. That party is interested in working closely with other parties that received such notices. Parties who would like to coordinate efforts or would like information about the matter should contact Albert M. Cohen at 310.282.2228. Mr. Cohen has represented groups of potentially responsible parties at various site including the Casmalia Disposal Site in Santa Barbara County, the Omega Superfund Site in Whittier, California, and the Operating Industries, Inc. Site in Monterey Park.

History of this Litigation
This matter has a long and complicated history. According to the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which has regulatory oversight, the matter involves two adjacent sites, the former Mouren-Laurens Oil Company Site located at 641, 705, 717 and 719 E. Compton Boulevard in Compton (the "MLOC Site") and the Leach Oil Company Site located at 625 E. Compton Boulevard in Compton (the "Leach Oil Site"). The MLOC site has reportedly been used since the 1950s for various phases of receiving, processing and packaging waste oil and other hazardous materials. Refined motor oil was reportedly delivered and re-packaged at the site. Underground pipelines reportedly transferred reclaimed oil from the adjacent Leach Oil Company site to tanks on the MLOC site. Site investigations have shown the presence of numerous chemicals in soil including 1,4-dioxane, PCE, TCE, DDT and PCBs. Groundwater contains elevated levels of PCE, TCE, NDMA and hexavalent chromium. The Leach Oil Site has reportedly operated as a waste oil reclamation facility since the 1950s. The oil reclamation included boiler units, a reclamation pond and application of concentrated acids. Waste oil was processed at the refinery and then shipped by pipeline to a packaging facility on the MLOC property. Leach Oil reportedly operated a hazardous waste transfer and storage facility at the site for some period of time. Site investigations show that soil is contaminated with various chemicals including PCE, lead, DDT, PCBs and 1,4-Dioxane and groundwater contains elevated levels of TCE, benzene, TBA and other constituents. The depth to groundwater at the site is about 85' below ground surface.

Litigation was initiated in 1998 by the owners of the MLOC Site and has been active for a dozen years. The case involves claims for private cost recovery and contribution under CERCLA and the California Health and Safety Code, for relief under RCRA, and for relief under various other theories. The case is pending before Judge Howard Matz. The Honorable G. Keith Wisot of JAMS has been appointed as a Special Master. The Special Master appointed Waterstone Environmental, Inc. as a court-appointed neutral to conduct sampling at the site. Site characterization work is ongoing. The docket for the case has approximately 700 entries to date. It is not clear how much it will cost to investigate and clean up the two sites. It is our understanding that the defendants claim the costs will be in the range of $5 million while the plaintiffs claim the costs will be in the seven figure range.

Again, if you have any questions about this matter, please feel free to contact Albert M. Cohen at 310.282.2228.

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