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Emergency Response and Natural Resource Damages

Members of our practice have developed a national reputation in the area of oil and chemical spills, including emergency response and the assessment and restoration of natural resource damages (NRDs), representing domestic and international energy, manufacturing, shipping and insurance clients in both the aquatic and terrestrial environments across the country.  

In particular, our experience encompasses:

  • Assisting with emergency response and NRD assessment and restoration issues in complex matters under CERCLA/Superfund, the CWA and the OPA, and analogous state laws, utilizing both negotiated, technically-driven cooperative approaches and litigation strategies
  • Representing responsible/potentially responsible parties, including electricity generating companies, manufacturers and owners/operators of contaminated properties, such as disposal sites/landfills, with respect to negotiated resolutions of cleanup and NRD liability and litigation strategies to cost-effectively evaluate and seek contribution from other parties
  • High level contacts and respected working relationships with key legal and technical personnel of federal (and analogous state) trustees, such as the Department of Interior/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice

Most significantly, we are part of a multi-disciplinary team that responds on behalf of ship owners and operators, and their insurers, to major oil/chemical spills and casualties throughout the United States, including in the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River, northern Atlantic (Buzzards Bay) and Pacific (Puget Sound) Oceans.  In this capacity, we have been involved in more than a dozen major matters with state and federal agencies and trustees across the country, which have resulted in the execution of consent decrees resolving myriad of claims in aquatic environments associated with injuries to, for example: diverse types of shoreline (e.g., marsh habitats); aquatic/water column micro-organisms; finfish/shellfish; birds/wildlife (including threatened and endangered species), and lost recreational uses (e.g., shoreline use, boating, fishing/shellfishing).

Our seasoned approach to such matters entails:

  • Working cooperatively with federal, state and tribal governmental agencies/trustees  to coordinate the emergency response/cleanup and NRD assessment and restoration activities
  • Identifying and coordinating appropriate scientific/technical experts from academic and private commercial sources throughout the United States (including identifying joint experts to avoid effort- and cost-duplication)
  • Overseeing and managing scientific/technical consultants to ensure data is cost-effectively and appropriately collected in a manner to be used in multiple technical and legal venues, including:  addressing federal and state response/cleanup obligations; assessing injury to, and developing cost-effective restoration options for, natural resources; and to support the defense team in any criminal and civil (including class actions) proceedings
  • Critically tailoring technical and legal strategies to reduce exposure to inflated NRD assessments based on synthetic injury calculations produced by proprietary government models

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