United States v. Sterling Centrecorp Inc., No. 18-15585 (9th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed suit against Sterling under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) to recover response costs incurred at a Superfund Site. Sterling filed a counterclaim, arguing that the United States was itself liable for response costs under CERCLA as a prior "operator" of the Lava Cap Mine during World War II.
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment finding Sterling liable for response costs and that plaintiffs could recover all response costs. The court held that Sterling is subject to CERCLA liability as a prior operator of the Mine and that the United States is not subject to CERCLA liability as a prior operator. The court also held that the interim remedy selected by the EPA to supply non-contaminated drinking water at the Site was not arbitrary and capricious or otherwise not in accordance with law. Furthermore, Sterling failed to overcome the presumption of consistency with the National Contingency Plan.