Office of the Vermont Attorney General

Clean up of Contaminated Sites and Cost Recovery

The Environmental Protection Division files civil enforcement actions in state court to compel polluters and other responsible parties to clean up contaminated properties in Vermont. The Division also pursues court actions to recover costs of investigating and cleaning up hazardous materials when the state does the work using monies from a state clean-up fund.

The Division works with the Agency of Natural Resources to legally force responsible parties to clean up polluted sites in the state. This usually involves filing legal action in state court to compel the full investigation and remediation of the contaminated site. The work is done under an order from the court.

At other times, the Division seeks through court action recovery of investigation and cleanup expenditures by one of two state clean-up funds: Petroleum Cleanup Fund (PCF) and Environmental Cleanup Fund (ECF). The PCF, 10 V.S.A. § 1941 funded in part by annual fees on petroleum storage tanks and a tax on gasoline sales, makes disbursements to cover eligible costs of investigating and cleaning up releases of hazardous materials to the air, soil or water. Where the State determines that private insurance coverage covers the release, but the insurance company refuses to provide coverage, the Division pursues legal claims against the insurer to recover the PCF’s past and anticipated future costs of investigation and cleanup.

The ECF, 10 V.S.A. § 1283 funded in part by a tax on hazardous waste generators, makes disbursements to control, investigate, and cleanup releases of hazardous materials where the discharging party is unknown, or fails to take appropriate action, or where action is necessary to address actual or threatened imminent and substantial danger to the public health and welfare or to the environment. The Division pursues claims against responsible parties to recover past and anticipated future payments from the ECF.

For both PCF and ECF cases, any monetary recoveries by the Division are returned to replenish the fund for future use at other contaminated sites in the state.

Cases handled by the Division:

State of Vermont v. John Ruggiero, et al., No. 470-8-17 Rdcv (judgment of $1.8 million in past clean-up costs, treble damages and monitoring costs, for contaminated site of former gas station and dry-cleaning business in Rutland). Press Release

State of Vermont v. Bradford Oil Co. Inc., No. 307-5-06 Wncv & 139-10-13 Vtec (Recovery of expenditures and injunctive Relief)

State of Vermont v. R.L. Vallee, Inc. and Chartis Specialty Insurance Company, No. 389-6-10 Wncv (recovery of a total of $2,025,000 in insurance proceeds for PCF relating to contaminated gas station located in New Haven). Press Release

State of Vermont, Agency of Natural Resources v. Stonington Insurance Co., et al., No. 811-12-02 Wncv (recovery of $940,000 in insurance proceeds for the PCF for relating to contamination from petroleum storage tanks at a gas station located in Springfield). Press Release

State of Vermont v. Parkway Cleaners, No. 480-7-10 WNCV (Recovery of $100,000 from one set of Defendants; judgment of liability as another defendant). Press Release

State of Vermont v. Howe Cleaners, New Hampshire Ins. Co., et al., No. 147-3-01 Wncv (recovery of $590,000 in insurance proceeds for ECF related to a release of solvents from a former dry cleaner in Barre).

State of Vermont v. Vermont Asbestos Group, Inc., Dkt No. 2:13-cv-239 (judgment in federal court related to past costs by state and $28,458,399 in estimated future costs). Press Release