On Monday, the United States of America, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia filed a complaint in the Northern District of West Virginia against Koppers Inc., a Pennsylvania chemical and materials company with at least two facilities in West Virginia, claiming that it was discharging harmful quantities of oil and polluting United States’ navigable waters.
The complaint was reportedly filed at the request of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state departments of environmental protection. In addition to the Clean Water Act, the plaintiffs cited multiple laws and regulations including the Oil Spill Response Program, Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Regulations, FRP Regulations, Pennsylvania Storage Tank and Spill Prevention Program Regulations, and the West Virginia Above Ground Storage Tank Act.
The defendant was specifically accused of polluting the Monogahela River, which flows from West Virginia to the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, and the North Branch of the Potomac River. The complaint said that because of the location of the facilities, they “could reasonably be expected to discharge oil in harmful quantities … into or upon navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.”
The complaint said that the district court had jurisdiction because the complaint included state claims and United States’ claims which were both due to the same controversy. The plaintiffs filed 33 claims against the company including, failure to amend their inadequate SPCC plan, violating inspection and test requirements, not adequately training personnel, failure to remove oil accumulations, inadequate drills, violating loading and unloading requirements, violating tank requirements, inadequate corrosion protection, and inadequate secondary containment.
The jurisdictions, represented by the U.S. Department of Justice and state environmental counsel, asked the court to enter an injunction against the company and require it to become compliant with the Clean Water Act and other regulatory requirements at each facility.