United States v. Waste Industries, Inc.

734 F.2d 159 (1984)

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United States v. Waste Industries, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
734 F.2d 159 (1984)

Facts

Waste Industries, Inc. (defendant) was granted an exclusive contract for landfills and solid-waste disposal in New Hanover County, North Carolina. Prior to that, the residents of the Flemington Community in New Hanover County had high-quality groundwater. After the landfill in the Flemington Community had been in operation for a few years, residents noticed a decline in water quality and began to develop illnesses and side effects from the poor-quality water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted testing on the groundwater and well water in the community and found a large number of toxins, contaminants, and carcinogens resulting from waste being improperly disposed of at the Flemington landfill. The EPA warned residents that using their wells was dangerous to their health and demanded that the county create a safe water supply for the residents. However, contaminants leaching from the landfill continued to reach the aquifer and migrate. The United States (plaintiff), on behalf of the EPA, filed suit seeking an order under § 7003 of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to stop future contamination, restore the groundwater, and reimburse the EPA for its related costs. Waste Industries argued that § 7003 applied only to the creation and handling of the actual hazardous waste, not to any condition that was created by or resulted from the hazardous waste. The district court granted the landfill group’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that the RCRA remedial provisions were not intended to apply to past conduct.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sprouse, J.)

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