Environmental law has grown thick with overlapping
and confusing federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
CERCLA, RCRA, SARA, TSCA -- each legislative session brings forth
more compliance burdens.
To combat this regulatory barrage, our attorneys are an experienced
team of environmental problem solvers. They identify genuine
environmental concerns and find sensible, economic ways of
addressing them for clients in such environmentally intensive
industries as steel and metals manufacturing, chemicals,
construction, coal, oil, and gas.
We are determined to open the way for our clients to reach their
goals and to overcome legal barriers. We counsel and assist our
clients to achieve cost-effective compliance. Although we have
negotiated favorable settlements for our clients, we are also
aggressive advocates and have tried and won environmental cases at
all levels of courts and in administrative proceedings.
Our representation of clients on environmental matters has
- Hazardous Waste Representations
- Industrial Redevelopment
- Permitting and Compliance Counseling
- Environmental Services Procurement
In the area of environmental litigation, we have tried complex
cases involving scores of witnesses, millions of pages of
documents, and huge potential liability, as well as smaller suits.
We have represented industrial clients in litigation arising from
alleged compliance violations, challenges to permit actions,
challenges to proposed regulations, and have defended clients in
"citizen suit" actions under various environmental statutes,
Federal "overfilings" and multimedia investigations, and
self-disclosure matters. Our environmental attorneys also have
experience in defending cease and desist actions and actions for
penalties and injunctive relief concerning "wetlands" violations
under the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act. We have
negotiated directly with governmental authorities over decisions to
press suit, extent of liability, and settlement.
Some examples include:
- We successfully defended a large Michigan integrated steel
producer in a multimillion dollar civil water pollution enforcement
action against charges of more than 600 alleged violations over a
three year period.
- Our client operated a plastics manufacturing facility in Ohio
which discharged industrial waste to a stream that eventually fed
Lake Erie, when a national environmental activist group filed a
"citizens suit" against it for alleged violations of the federal
Clean Water Act. We vigorously defended the matter and settled it
for no penalties and an agreement for our client to expedite
installation of pollution control equipment it had already
committed to purchase.
- A citizens group persuaded a local government to revoke a
building permit and stop renovation of a multinational
corporation's Pittsburgh manufacturing plant due to concerns about
use of toxic chemicals. We prepared a suit for an injunction and
met with the local citizens group and the government agency. The
plant was back in operation seven days later.
- State environmental authorities sought an injunction which
would have required our metals production client to shut down a
plant after the emergency breakdown of an air filtration mechanism
required to meet state and federal regulations. The state also
sought to hold company managers personally liable. Prompt
intervention by our attorneys resulted in the state agency agreeing
to drop charges against the named individuals and to allow our
client to develop a compliance plan without any shutdown of its
Hazardous Waste Representations
Our attorneys have widespread expertise in hazardous waste matters.
We have actively participated as counsel in more than twenty
federal and state "Superfund" hazardous waste cleanup matters and
have advised clients on the concepts of due diligence, cost
recovery, and successor liability in transactional contexts. We
have also brought claims and negotiated with insurers for coverage
of hazardous waste liability.
We represented a steel company that used an industrial waste
recycling facility that became the subject of a state Superfund
cleanup. Participating in a steering committee of over 400
potentially responsible parties, we succeeded in reducing our
client's liability by demonstrating that the volume of waste
attributed to it was grossly exaggerated.
We represented a steel company that used an industrial waste
recycling facility that A landfill owner/operator was compelled to
respond to litigation from local, state, and federal authorities,
adjoining homeowners, and a group of adverse generator and
transporter potentially responsible parties. We succeeded in
deferring adverse litigation while making a claim for the
owner/operator against its insurers to muster additional
Our client operates an industrial park on the former site of a
steel mill. When a tenant of our client discovered contaminated
soils on its leased premises, we persuaded the former site owner to
undertake responsibility for all costs of site cleanup and
remediation, with no contribution from our client.
We have acted as liaison counsel or common counsel for various
defendant groups in Superfund cost recovery cases, have organized
de minimis contributors, and worked out settlements and dismissals
in multi-generator cases.
The development of abandoned or former industrial properties has
become a priority for both public and private sector entities.
Accomplishing the goal of bringing new economic life to these
properties, however, means confronting a legacy of environmental
cleanup problems left over from the properties' former uses. We
have worked with our clients to help them meet the cleanup
standards for old properties by state and federal authorities
primarily under Ohio's Voluntary Action program, Pennsylvania's Act
2 program, and Michigan's Act 201 Baseline Environmental Assessment
program. Working with the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and
Industry and with NAIOP (the Association for Commercial Real
Estate) our attorneys have taken lead roles in providing comments
on proposed legislation to encourage reasoned cleanup standards and
to provide liability protection for entities that undertake
- On behalf of a major hotel franchising corporation, our
environmental attorneys worked with the City of Pittsburgh's Urban
Redevelopment Authority in reviewing and evaluating environmental
assessments of a former industrial property for use as an
entertainment complex, and coordinated the initiation of voluntary
remediation of the former industrial site through DER's
- Our attorneys advised a major hotel developer on developing a
wetlands area on the effects of state and federal dredge and fill
permit programs. This included assisting our client in the
scheduling of construction activities with timelines and outlines
of anticipated permitting processes, regulatory controls, and
appropriate remedial measures.
- We represent the owner of a 400-acre industrial park located in
Ohio with a broad array of historical contamination problems. Our
attorneys negotiated with, engaged the services of, and supervised
environmental consultants performing site assessments and remedial
work to meet existing or proposed cleanup standards. Our attorneys
also negotiated reasonable cleanup standards with the state
environmental agency to apply to this voluntary redevelopment.
- For the owner of another industrial park, we also negotiated
with, engaged the services of, and supervised environmental
consultants to conduct a voluntary remediation and redevelopment of
a contaminated former industrial property. Working with the site
owner, a potential lessor, and the environmental services
consultant, we devised a soil cleanup, removal, and disposal scheme
to meet state and federal requirements.
We have performed environmental audits and due diligence studies
with regard to the purchase, lease, and financing of real estate
and commercial transactions and have negotiated indemnification
agreements and price adjustments pertaining to actual or potential
environmental liabilities. We have provided environmental guidance
with regard to numerous transactions in a wide range of industries,
including steel, aluminum, and other metals, as well as in other
manufacturing, transportation, and commercial areas.
- We represented the seller of a national multi-site rental car
operation. Our attorneys evaluated Phase I site assessments,
developed contracts with environmental consultants to further
evaluate site conditions, and to conduct appropriate remediation of
contamination from underground storage tanks. As part of that
transaction, our attorneys negotiated a favorable environmental
indemnification and representation and warranty provisions in the
purchase and sale agreement.
- We have represented numerous purchasers, sellers, lessees and
lessors of petroleum processing facilities and automotive service
- We assisted a leading international locomotive remanufacturer
in its efforts to dispose of a division, including the completion
of environmental due diligence on thirty sites in four weeks.
- Representing the buyer of a major steel company, we negotiated
a twenty year environmental indemnity for all preexisting
- Representing sellers and buyers of multiple industrial
properties, we work with environmental consultants to establish
baseline contamination levels for use in negotiations and sales
agreements, and negotiate agreements with the appropriate agencies
for the permitting and installation of new, and the capping and
closure of old hazardous and non-hazardous disposal sites.
- We were asked by a large pharmaceutical manufacturer to perform
environmental due diligence reviews of several "target" facilities
it had an interest in acquiring. We completed the reviews, which
included sites in several different states, in about four weeks. On
the basis of our work, the company decided to go forward with
acquisition of one company, but to reject another on the basis of
problems discovered during our firm's due diligence
Permitting and Compliance
We have negotiated air, water, waste treatment, storage and
disposal, and other permits with state and federal agencies to
achieve our clients expansion and production goals. We have guided
municipal and residual waste permits through the agency maze. We
routinely counsel clients on rules regarding underground storage
tanks and other groundwater contamination problems. We continuously
counsel clients on rules and proposed regulations issued under all
major federal and state environmental laws ranging from wetlands to
Superfund to the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, including mobile
source controls. We have successfully represented clients
purchasing emission reduction credits, and are routinely
instrumental in developing and implementing environmental
management systems and strategic environmental plans.
- A steel plant was operating with various emission points each
of which arguably required a separate federal Clean Air Act permit.
Dealing with high level officials at the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency, our attorney negotiated a single "bubble"
permit, allowing the plant to operate, saving about $40 million and
the jobs of almost 4,000 workers.
- A steel company's slag disposal permit had been under review at
the state environmental agency for five years. Adjoining landowners
opposed the permit. We successfully organized a technical and
administrative program to get the permit issued before the new
residual waste regulations became effective, extending the useful
life of the site by three years.
- We have negotiated NPDES, pretreatment, and stormwater
discharge permits for industrial sector clients which avoided the
clients' expenditure of millions of dollars for treatment
improvements and reduced their operating costs.
- We obtained the first permit issued in Pennsylvania for a tire
shredding operation regulated as a municipal solid waste processing
and transfer facility.
- We have represented clients on matters concerning compliance
with state laws regarding underground storage tanks and other
groundwater contamination matters. We have also solved problems on
hazardous air pollutant emissions.
- We are currently advising steel manufacturers and processors
and chemical, pharmaceutical, wood product, and battery
manufacturers on compliance issues regarding air pollution, waste
waters, hazardous waste, treatment, storage and disposal of
- We have advised clients on, and helped them prepare strategic
environmental plans, environmental management systems,
environmental compliance audits, auditing procedures and associated
self-disclosure issues. We have also drafted corporate
environmental compliance policies and advised corporate managers
and officers on questions concerning their personal liability.
Environmental Services Procurement
We routinely engage consultants and engineers to perform
environmental services on behalf of our clients. These services
have included Phase I, II, and III site assessments, compliance
audits, needs assessments, asbestos remediation, hazardous waste
remediation, contracts for the design, implementation, operation,
and maintenance of pollution control and monitoring equipment and
devices, air emissions modeling, and various privileged and
non-privileged sampling programs and compliance reviews. In this
capacity, we have solicited information from prospective bidders,
prepared requests for proposal, evaluated bid proposals, negotiated
extra work, and handled all aspects of project management for the
- Our client operates a large manufacturing facility which has
been in continuous use for almost 200 years in the same location
adjacent to a stream. PADEP imposed a requirement on the company to
conduct tests on the stream to measure the effects of its
industrial discharge and to implement any necessary remedial
strategy. Our experience in environmental regulation enabled us to
identify the most qualified and cost effective bidders for this
project, from whom we solicited project proposals and whom we (and
the client's environmental manager) interviewed. We selected a
contractor who, while not the low bidder, submitted the optimum
proposal meeting all regulatory needs and a testing regimen that
would provide the most reliable results. As a result of the testing
(the protocols of which PADEP approved), no remedial action proved
- A client that owns a mixed use industrial park consisting of
several hundred acres with about forty tenant activities needed to
conduct an environmental site assessment in order to obtain bank
financing. After a preliminary review of the site and all site
documentation, our attorneys prepared a Request for Proposal (RFP)
and sought responses from several qualified consultants. We engaged
in information exchanges with the bidders in order to refine the
RFP, including several changes suggested by the bidders. As a
result of this process, the winning proposal price was about 30%
lower than the client had expected for the contracted
Francis X. Markert
Keevican Weiss Bauerle & Hirsch LLC
Three Gateway Center
401 Liberty Avenue, 3rd FloorPittsburgh PA