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United States v. A & N Cleaners
United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
854 F. Supp. 229 (1994)
Jordan Berkman, John Petrillo, and Joseph and Mario Curto (defendants) purchased a parcel of property on March 2, 1979. Prior to the purchase, A & N Cleaners (defendant) operated a dry-cleaning business on the property. Berkman, Petrillo, and the Curtos continued to lease the property to A & N Cleaners after purchasing the property. A & N Cleaners generated two types of waste from its operations: dryer condensate and ironing-machine condensate. Until approximately March 1, 1979, A & N Cleaners disposed of both forms of waste by dumping it into a floor drain, which emptied into a dry well under the property. In 1978, hazardous waste was discovered in a nearby well field that supplied water to the community. The waste included volatile halogenated organic compounds, which are present in dry-cleaning waste. The discovery of the contamination was announced in the local newspapers, and the health department issued an advisory recommending that water from the well field be boiled. On March 1, 1979, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) sent a letter to A & N Cleaners disapproving of the current disposal practices. A & N Cleaners had stopped dumping dryer condensate down the floor drain before receiving this letter. However, A & N Cleaners continued to dump the ironing-machine condensate down the floor drain. In December 1979, Berkman signed an access agreement giving environmental agencies permission to come onto the property to determine the source of contamination of the well field. However, Berkman, Petrillo, and the Curtos took no action to learn about the waste-disposal practices of A & N Cleaners. The United States sued Berkman, Petrillo, the Curtos, and A & N Cleaners under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), seeking to recover costs incurred for cleaning up the well field due to the contamination from the dry-cleaning business.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sweet, J.)
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