Environmental
Practice Area Chair:
Patrick G. Rowe
503.227.1111 Main
503.243.1651 Direct

Environmental

Today, keeping current on environmental regulations, permitting, compliance, and other legal matters is a never-ending battle.  The laws are complex and change often, which makes for a challenging business environment.  We help clear the air so our clients can breathe easy.

Our Environmental Law Practice Group guides clients through the tangled web of environmental issues they encounter, while minimizing risk and liability.  We advise clients in regulatory compliance, government agency negotiations, litigation, bankruptcy, business transactions, alternative dispute resolution, and more.

Many clients rely on us for our expertise in the sale and lease of contaminated property and litigation arising under major environmental laws.  We work closely with technical, insurance, and other professionals to meet our clients' business needs and goals. 

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Brownfield redevelopment and prospective purchaser agreements
  • CERCLA, RCRA, and hazardous waste claims and remedial actions, including cost recovery and contribution
  • Permitting and compliance matters arising under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and state law equivalents
  • Chemical exposure claims, including property damage and personal injury
  • Defense of asbestos claims
  • Defense of environmental citizen suits, including CWA and RCRA
  • Due diligence and environmental audits in the sale, lease, or financing of property (underground storage tanks, contaminants, water rights, wetlands)
  • Expert witness advice and testimony
  • Defense of government enforcement actions
  • Negotiating and overseeing Consent Orders
  • Representation of contractors and owners in mold and other "sick building syndrome" claims
  • Representation of debtors, creditors, trustees, and other parties in bankruptcy matters with environmental issues
  • Representation of environmental professionals and contractors
  • Representation of potentially responsible parties in obtaining "No Further Action" determinations

Attorneys practicing in this area
Paralegals supporting this practice area
Representative Work
Asbestos – Hazardous Waste
We represented a developer in a complex, multi-party, $12+ million settlement of claims by 36 homeowners; related litigation in federal court, bankruptcy court, and state court, together with related EPA and DEQ enforcement actions, arising from development of a residential subdivision on a former military site contaminated with asbestos. The settlement resulted in the dismissal of all potentially viable claims, a release of all liabilities to EPA and DEQ, contribution protection, and the transfer of affected properties to a receiver.
Asbestos Defense
We have successfully defended many clients, including manufacturers and distributors of electronic equipment, furnaces, building supplies, apparel, and other asbestos-containing products.
Brownfield Purchase
We represented a major shipping company in one of the largest Brownfield acquisitions in Oregon history.  The client acquired property, within a Superfund site for redevelopment.  We advised the client with respect to due diligence, obtaining innocent purchaser status, and retaining non-liable status during redevelopment activities.  We also represented the client in related contract negotiations and drafting, and in related wetlands, tax abatement, and other regulatory issues.
Brownfield Purchase and Sale
We represented a major shipping company in one of the largest Brownfield acquisitions in Oregon history.  The client acquired property within a Superfund site for redevelopment.  We advised the client with respect to due diligence, obtaining bona fide prospective purchaser status under federal law and protections under state law, and retaining non-liable status during redevelopment activities.  We also represented the client in related contract negotiations and drafting, and in related wetlands, tax abatement, and other regulatory issues and continue provide counsel regarding issues pertaining to the expansion of their facility.

We have represented numerous other parties in the brownfield property transactions, including negotiation of the Purchase and Sale Agreement and provisions particular to these transactions, such as environmental insurance, escrow accounts and hold back agreements, and defense and indemnification obligations.

CERCLA Litigation
We represented landowners in CERCLA litigation in the U.S. District Court for Oregon arising from a TCE plume migrating from two separate sources onto land passed down to our clients through their parents' will.  After intensive discovery as to the responsible parties, we presented both fact and expert testimony at a summary judgment hearing.  The case settled within 30 days after hearing and before ruling was issued.  Our clients recovered 100% of their attorney fees and costs.
Chemical Spill
We succeeded in obtaining a dismissal of a claim against an agricultural chemical manufacturer for chemical exposure to its herbicide, arising from a spill of the product from a truck.
Citizens Suit Defense
We have represented numerous parties in the defense of citizen suit actions brought under the Clean Water Act and RCRA, including a landfill and Christmas tree farm owner contending with claims that an on-site irrigation pond constituted a waters of the United States and was serving as a conduit for migration of contamination to owners of facilities operating under stormwater general permits contending with various claims including alleged lack of required monitoring and failure to take corrective actions to address benchmark exceedances.
Citizens Suit Defense
We are currently representing a landfill operator in the defense of citizen suit actions based on the Clean Water Act and RCRA.
Environmental Contractor Liability Defense
We defended a claim against an environmental remediation contractor for more than $1 million for damages allegedly caused by inadequate characterization and clean up of property purchased by the plaintiff.  The matter involved multiple parties in interrelated cases in state court and in contractually mandatory arbitration.  We settled the claim for a fraction of the demand.
Government Foreclosure
We represent a county government that foreclosed on a contaminated property due to tax delinquency.  We have provided legal counsel regarding grant funding for site investigation and clean up, and advice regarding litigation strategy.
Health Care Facility Construction and Cost Recovery
We first advised a community hospital on a fast track design/build remedial system in conjunction with construction of a new facility.  The property was heavily contaminated by fuel releases from an adjacent gas station.  We sued the Responsible Party and obtained full recovery of past costs and a mechanism to recover future costs.  We continue to advise the hospital on ongoing remediation and cost recovery issues.
Industrial Groundwater Contamination
We represented Cascade in Boeing v. Cascade at trial and on appeal in the 9th Circuit.  We then represented Cascade Corp. in City of Portland v. Boeing and Cascade, a $20 million claim for damages to the Portland well field. After several weeks of trial we negotiated a favorable settlement.  We continue to represent Cascade in a $30+ million, multi-decade clean-up and ongoing remedial cost allocation issues with Boeing.
Landfill Regulation
We have represented several clients in a number of landfill permitting, regulatory, and compliance matters. 
NPDES Permit Renewal
We represented a circuit board manufacturer in obtaining its NPDES (waste water) discharge permit renewal. Our scope of work included working with the client and experts to modify production processes, pretreatment, outfall design, and performance of the necessary stream flow/dilution study in order to meet new stricter DEQ discharge requirements.
Property Purchase Due Diligence
We completed wetlands, fill flood plain, and related due diligence for an international shipping company in connection with its lease and construction of a warehouse facility adjacent to the Columbia Slough in Portland.
Remedial Action
We represented a former bulk fuel facility operator in negotiations with the property owner and the Washington Department of Ecology to propose and perform a remedial action plan to clean up petroleum releases.  The site was complicated by the fact that it sits on the Tacoma Coal Gasification Superfund Site and that the coal tars form part of the confining unit between the upper and lower aquifers.
Water Rights
We represented an eastern Oregon property owner in an Oregon Department of Water Resources administrative adjudication bought by a neighbor seeking to terminate the client's water rights based on the alleged non-use by a prior owner.