Second Circuit Opinion Distinguishes Removal and Remediation To Find Government Claims Timely

October 18, 2013
MGKF Litigation Blog

Determining the appropriate Statute of Limitations for claims brought pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 9601, et seq. (“CERCLA”), is often a tricky matter.  Usually, the issue arises in the context of determining whether a claim is properly brought under Section 107(a), 42 U.S.C. § 9607(a), for costs voluntarily incurred, or § 113(f), 42 U.S.C. § 9613(f), for costs incurred pursuant to a court order or approved settlement, as Section 107(a) claims may be subject to a six-year statute of limitations, while claims under Section 113(f) have a three-year limitations period.  However, in State of New York v. Next Millenium Realty, LLC, No. 12-2894-cv (2nd Cir. Oct. 15, 2013), the Second Circuit turned its attention to a different distinction, the one between removal actions and remedial actions, as Section 107(a) claims “must be commenced … for a removal action, within 3 years after completion of the removal action [and] for a remedial action, within 6 years after initiation of physical on-site construction of the remedial action. . . .”  42 U.S.C. Section 9613(g)(2)(B).  In order to find the claims of the State of New York timely, the Court held that a water purification system in use for over 15 years was nevertheless a removal action and not a remedial action because, among other things, the measures were intended to “minimize and mitigate” damage from contamination and not to “permanently eliminate” it.  Id. at 24. Read the full blog post.