Commonwealth of PA Dep' of Envtl. Prot. v. Lockheed Martin Corp., No. 10-4078 (3d Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
In 1957 the Commonwealth constructed the Quehanna Wild Area Nuclear Site. Part of the site was donated to Pennsylvania State University. Until 1967 Penn State leased to a Lockheed predecessor, conducting work under Atomic Energy Commission contracts, involving Strontium-90, a radioactive isotope. The predecessor partially decontaminated. According to Lockheed, the Commonwealth was aware that Strontium-90 remained and could not be removed without dismantling the facility. In the 1990s, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the Commonwealth, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to decommission the facility. This cost more than $20 million. PADEP sued Lockheed under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. 9607(a). Lockheed defended that the Commonwealth should recover less than its demand based on its own conduct and liability and the doctrines of unclean hands, estoppel, waiver, and laches. Lockheed also alleged that PADEP was liable under CERCLA as an owner-operator and as having arranged for or transported hazardous substances. The district court dismissed Lockheed’s third-party complaint, concluding that the Commonwealth and DCNR retained Eleventh Amendment immunity when PADEP filed a federal suit. The Third Circuit vacated with instructions to dismiss the third party complaint as moot, based on the sufficiency of Lockheed’s affirmative defenses.