2001 CPEO Brownfields List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 26 Mar 2001 18:11:39 -0000
Reply: cpeo-brownfields
Subject: [CPEO-BIF] Emeryville Scores Important Victory in Brownfield Redevelopment Leg
Monday March 26, 12:30 pm Eastern Time 
Press Release
Emeryville Scores Important Victory in Brownfield Redevelopment Legal Challenge

(Excerpts) To read the complete Press release go to:

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 26, 2001--Emeryville, Calif., a city of
approximately 7,000 bordering San Francisco Bay, Oakland and Berkeley, scored
an important victory in Federal District Court in San Francisco last week in a
decision validating a key component of Emeryville's award-winning brownfield
redevelopment program. 

According to the District Court, Emeryville's acquisition of contaminated
property under eminent-domain authority did not make the city partly liable for
the cost of cleaning up 75 years of industrial pollution. The ruling thus
cleared the way for the city to pursue joint and several liability against the
polluters for cleanup costs, interest and attorneys' fees totaling
approximately $13 million. 

The District Court also held that under California's Polanco Redevelopment Act,
the city would enjoy the same strong presumptions enjoyed by federal and state
regulators who clean up sites under the federal Superfund statute passed by
Congress in 1980. 

The focal point in the case is a 20-acre site formerly occupied by a pesticide
plant, an iron-oxide manufacturing plant and a drum- recycling operation.
Emeryville is redeveloping the site with approximately 300,000 square feet of
retail and entertainment uses, 350 for-sale residential units and a 300-room

Redevelopment was stalled, however, by the need to investigate and clean up
more than 25,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with arsenic and 50 other
potentially hazardous chemicals, and to prevent contaminated groundwater at the
site from damaging San Francisco Bay. 
The city began investigating the site in early 1997 and late that year invoked
its authority under the Polanco Redevelopment Act, a Superfund-like statute
that enables California redevelopment agencies to expedite the cleanup process.
The city subsequently acquired the contaminated parcels through negotiations
and litigation under its eminent-domain authority. 

In August 1999, as on-site cleanup began, Emeryville filed a lawsuit in Federal
District Court in San Francisco alleging that historic operators at the site
were responsible for the entire cost of the cleanup. The city recovered $7.1
million through mediation and a settlement approved by the District Court last

The decision last week, rendered by the Honorable William H. Alsup of the
Northern District of California, accepted Cox, Castle & Nicholson's argument on
behalf of Emeryville that the city did not become liable for a portion of the
cleanup costs by virtue of acquiring the property for redevelopment or by
maintaining a public road on the site since the 1940s. 

For more information about Cox, Castle & Nicholson, visit the firm's Web site
at www.ccnlaw.com. For more information about Emeryville's brownfield program,
visit the city's Web site at www.emeryville.ca.us. 

     Cox, Castle & Nicholson LLP, Los Angeles
     Nancy Newman, 310/284-2222
     Sonnonstine Public Relations, Long Beach, Calif.
     Linda Sonnonstine, 562/434-8175

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