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Environmental emergencies, such as oil or chemical spills, accidental leaks, fires, and train derailments, can have significant impacts on the environment, the local community, and our clients' businesses. MGKF’s counseling of clients in this begins with advance planning for emergency response, and extends to incident reponse, reporting and follow-up mitigation actions.

In all circumstances, advance environmental response action planning is required not only to mitigate the potential environmental impacts, but also to enable the entities involved to mitigate potentially significant penalties for violations of environmental laws that may apply to emergency releases. These plans should be updated and tested through periodic practice drills.

MGKF has developed emergency response plans required under federal and state environmental laws to respond to environmental emergencies. In addition to advance planning, MGKS assists client with immediate and effective response actions and counsel, in some cases at the scene of the incident, to assist clients with the variety of tasks required as part of an effective response to an environmental emergency. Such actions include agency and public notice requirements; response obligations under applicable statues, regulations, and ordinances; coordination of data collection process; and preparation for potential future litigation. No matter how responsive the client's actions, where the emergency gives rise to substantial impacts to the environment and the public, litigation is likely.

Our multidisciplinary team combines technical, scientific, legal, and strategic disciplines that are necessary to provide on-scene assistance, coordination, and substantive and strategic decisions in these fast-paced matters.

In addition to interfacing with federal, state, and local agencies to present the relevant incident information with sensitivity to the client's legal obligations, MGKF provides guidance and counsel related to public relations, post-incident investigation, and financial mitigation. When needed, our firm collaborates with an extensive network of environmental consultants and first responders experienced in the fields of emergency response, site remediation, and ecological monitoring.

Photo ©2013 Avi Loren Fox Photography

  • Represented refineries on numerous occasions in response to release events. In these matters, we have counseled clients with respect to release reporting requirements, modeling of emission impacts, emergency response, and interactions with state and federal officials. We also have participated in their "command centers" to assist in guiding the emergency response efforts.
  • Assisted clients both at the scene and in all facets of follow-up actions arising out of train derailments, including both minor and very significant incidents. In addition to the environmental regulatory agencies involved, requirements of industry-specific authorities must be met. We have also represented the companies in litigation arising out of these incidents.
  • Counseled clients regarding the remediation of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in buildings affected by major fires. These incidents involve dealing with the local municipality as well as state and federal agencies.
  • Consulted in connection with liability and potential insurance coverage issues associated with a building contaminated by anthrax. We also provided input on the appropriate decontamination methods and procedures. This highly sensitive matter, by its very nature, also involved significant interface with the regulators and the public.

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