Spills & Releases

B&D advises clients on matters arising under Section 311 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Oil Pollution Act (OPA), offering comprehensive experience with preventing, detecting, reporting, and responding to oil and hazardous substance spills and related emergency situations. Our clients include companies in the petroleum refiningmidstream gas processingpipeline, agricultural and chemical manufacturing, railroad, transportation, airline, and chemical storage/warehousing sectors.

This work includes compliance advice, auditing, and enforcement defense under the CWA’s Section 311 spill and releases reporting requirements, including prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plan and Facility Response Plan (FRP) requirements, and the applicability of and requirements under OPA.

When spills or releases occur, we assist clients in determining whether notification is required and complying with notification procedures to local, state, or federal agencies. This includes reporting and responding to spills and releases from underground and aboveground storage tanks, bulk hazardous substance and petroleum storage facilities, transfer stations and pipelines, and transportation-related releases like train derailments and tanker truck rollovers. We also help clients interface with investigators and claimants’ counsel, develop internal and external messaging, provide strategic advice regarding personal injury litigation risk, negotiate with government agencies and stakeholders regarding post-incident remediation and penalty enforcement, and defend subsequent personal injury litigation.

Our team includes lawyers with high-level federal government experience at DOJ and EPA, including former EPA Regional Counsel for Region 10, former Associate Regional Counsel for all oil spill enforcement and response at Region 4, and former DOJ senior trial attorneys.

Select Representative Work

  • B&D has assisted numerous clients following oil spills and hazardous substance releases, advising on reporting and response requirements, enforcement by state and federal regulators, and best practices for ensuring compliance in the future.
  • B&D assisted a prominent plastic film manufacturing company respond to an EPA SPCC enforcement action arising out of a post-spill EPA inspection, develop and implement a compliant SPCC plan, and leverage necessary improvements to offset potential enforcement penalties.
  • B&D has worked with numerous industrial clients to evaluate the scope of their SPCC or FRP Plans with regard to materials that fall within the EPA and Coast Guard’s respective definitions of oil and hazardous substances. Improper classification of materials subject to SPCC Plan requirements can result in significant over-or under-inclusion of storage capacities in critical SPCC Plan requirements such as secondary containment and inspections.
  • B&D has conducted numerous compliance audits of facilities’ SPCC and FRP Plans, including disclosures and corrective actions under EPA’s Audit Policy to gain civil penalty forgiveness.
  • B&D has assisted with the mediation and litigation of commercial indemnity disputes regarding capital improvements made for SPCC Plan compliance in the context of corporate ownership changes of complex industrial operations.