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Monday, March 30, 2020

Utah mining company appeals order in fight over information with EPA


By Mary Ann Magnell | Aug 22, 2018


SALT LAKE CITY (Legal Newsline) – United Park City Mines and Talisker Finance on July 27 filed an appeal asking for an interlocutory review of a July 9 order that ordered them to comply with the request for information issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The appeal was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division by Christopher Hogle and Jennifer S. Horne with Holland & Hart LLP, seeking the interlocutory review. The defendants seek for the appeal to be reviewed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

Judge Dee Benson wrote the July 9 decision that granted partial summary judgment to plaintiff United States of America and denied summary judgment to the defendants. He additionally directed the defendants to “comply with the requests for information issued by EPA within 30 days of the date of this order.”

The EPA began investigating UPCM in the mid-1980s, according to Benson's ruling. The EPA alleged that the Utah mining company had contaminated several sites with its mining waste at which UPCM was the owner and operator.

UPCM was required in 2000 to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study at one of the contaminated sites. Additionally, UPCM was required in 2014 to implement work and site characterization reports, perform an engineering evaluation and cost analysis and implement the removal action selected by EPA, according to Benson's opinion.  

The opinion says UPCM “failed to timely and adequately perform work and make payments required” of the requests. Because of the “deficiencies,” the EPA “took over a portion of the work” under the 2014 requests. 

The EPA wants to enforce two requests for information.

The first request was for information about UPCM and its affiliates' current and past financial position, as well as the current and past information request for Talisker.

The defendants argued with these requests, stating that they infringed on their Fourth Amendment rights.

Benson found that the issued requests, however, “were within the authority granted to EPA under CERCLA. The requests were also reasonable specific with respect to time and subject matter,” he wrote. “And the financial information sought regarding Talisker, UPCM and affiliated entities is relevant to the ability of UPCM to pay for a cleanup of the sites at issue.”

He further stated that the requests “did not violate the Fourth Amendment.” 

U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division case number 2:17-CV-00482-DB

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U.S. District Court for the District of Utah