Chemical supplier not an intentional polluter

The issue in Vine Street LLC v. Borg Warner Corp. was whether the defendant — a seller of dry cleaning equipment and supplies — intentionally discharged “PERC” (an unpleasant chemical widely used in dry cleaning) into the ground. No. 07-40440 (Jan. 14, 2015). While most of the opinion addresses technical matters about CERCLA , the discussion about the evidence of intent is of general interest.  In particular, the Court noted testimony that the defendant’s employees handled PERC with care and did not intentionally spill it, and evidence that the defendant’s intent was to “sell useful chemicals to distributors and not to dispose of them” — in other words, “there is no evidence to suggest that [Defendant] engaged in subterfuge to disguise the disposal of PERC as a legitimate transaction surrounding the operation of a dry cleaning business.”

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