On January 9, 2013, in American International Specialty Lines Ins. Co. v. United States, Case No. CV09-01734 (C.D. Cal.), the United States District Court for the Central District of California allocated liability for CERCLA response costs to the U.S. government.
An insurer filed the lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of Whittaker Corporation to recover costs incurred in connection with the cleanup of a former ammunition and rocket motor production facility in Santa Clarita, California.
In a June 30, 2010 Order, the District Court determined that the federal government was liable under CERCLA because the government’s contracts with Whittaker and its predecessor (Bermite Powder Co.) provided that that the U.S. owned materials and equipment used by Whittaker at the facility.
In its January 9, 2013 Order, the District Court ordered the U.S. Government to reimburse the insurer for approximately $3 million in past costs and to pay 40% of the future costs to remediate the contamination at the site. The facts the District Court used to support its allocation included the following: (1) the U.S. knew that hazardous waste would be generated as a result of the operations; (2) the majority of the contaminated areas at the site were areas where items for the government were produced; and (3) government inspectors were present on site.