Boeing Asks for Government Help with Waste Removal Costs

In a complaint filed on Friday in the Central District of California, Boeing asked for the United States of America to be required to pay for environmental cleanup of hazardous substances, which have been released or could be released at Boeing’s former manufacturing plant in Torrance, Calif., where Boeing manufactured aircraft or missile parts for the military.

Boeing allegedly received a notice from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the groundwater in March 1999. The company has incurred costs to clean the site under the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, and alleged that costs for the clean up will continue to be incurred by the plaintiff.

The company claimed that the US should cover the costs because the federal government owned or operated the site, and the government controlled the waste disposal and substances. “Boeing seeks to recover from the federal government Boeing’s past and future response costs for investigating and remediating contamination at the Site, and for investigating and remediating certain hazardous substances that are alleged to have been released from the Site and migrated to the MDA Sites,” the complaint stated. 

The site was owned and operated by the federal government between 1952 and 1970, and leased to Boeing. During that time, Boeing manufactured military hardware and hazardous substances were released, contaminating soil and groundwater. Boeing purchased the site from the United States in 1970, and continued to manufacture for the military at the location through at least 1990.

Boeing claimed “the federal government exercised pervasive supervision over operations at the Site and was actively involved in manufacturing activities, including the exercise of engineering coordination and control through stages of production and service use, and requirements on the chemical materials to be used for aircraft component manufacturing, including the chemicals to be used for cleaning.” They further alleged that the government decided which hazardous chemicals would be used and owned the waste products and the disposal means.

The government also purchased and owned the hazardous substances which were used, however, the complaint said the government “intended for Boeing to dispose of the waste that was created when hazardous substances were used.”

Boeing asked the court to rule that the United States should be responsible for a share of past costs paid by Boeing, including pre- and post-judgment interest, and be held liable for future costs. The United States will be represented by Andrew Stephen Coghlan with the United States Department of Justice. Boeing is represented by Ronald McIntire with Perkins Coie.