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Amoco Oil Co. v. Borden, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
889 F.2d 664 (5th Cir. 1989)


Borden, Inc. (Borden) (defendant) operated a phosphate fertilizer plant on a tract of land. The plant produced radioactive phosphogypsum. Amoco Oil Co. (Amoco) (plaintiff), being unaware of the radioactive nature of phosphogypsum, purchased the land “as is.” After it purchased the land and discovered the radioactivity, Amoco incurred costs to clean up the phosphogypsum. Amoco brought suit under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), 42 U.S.C. § 9601, to recover expenses associated with the cleanup. For liability to be established under CERCLA, the plaintiff must prove, among other things, that a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance has occurred and has caused the plaintiff to incur response costs. CERCLA also provided that cleanup is necessary to the extent it is needed to assure “protection of human health and the environment” under any “legally applicable or relevant and appropriate requirement” (ARAR). The district court analyzed one ARAR—a federal standard for uranium—and found that Amoco had not demonstrated a sufficient level of contamination to warrant liability. Amoco appealed, arguing that although there was not a sufficient level of contamination under the ARAR the district court analyzed, there was a sufficient level of contamination under a federal radium standard.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Reavley, J.)

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