As Stormwater Discharge Permits Proliferate, So Do Citizen Suits
Citizen suits under state and federal environmental laws are nothing new. But recent cases brought in California and Massachusetts may indicate a new trend of suits alleging violations of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) associated with stormwater discharges. These suits have several characteristics that make them attractive to prospective plaintiffs and their lawyers. Further, the enforcement environment (no pun intended) suggests that there is no shortage of potential defendants.
- Facilities subject to federal stormwater effluent discharge standards in 40 C.F.R. parts 405–71
- Heavy manufacturing—e.g., paper mills, refineries, chemical plants, steel mills, and foundries
- Coal and mineral mining, and oil and gas exploration and processing
- Hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facilities
- Landfills, land application sites, and open dumps with industrial wastes
- Metal scrap yards, salvage yards, automobile junkyards, and battery reclaimers
- Steam electric power generating plants
- Transportation facilities that have vehicle maintenance, equipment cleaning, or airport deicing operations
- Treatment works treating domestic sewage with a design flow of one million gallons a day or more
- Light manufacturing (e.g., food processing, printing and publishing, electronic and other electrical equipment manufacturing, and public warehousing and storage)
Alex P. Basilevsky is an attorney in the environmental department of Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel in Philadelphia, PA, whose practice includes clients with stormwater-related concerns.
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