March 8, 2011
Vermont Clinic Victory in Groundwater Case
From Teresa Clemmer at Vermont Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic:
The ENRLC is very pleased to announce that it has prevailed on summary judgment in the Vermont Environmental Court after three years of litigation concerning groundwater contamination at the Omya mineral processing facility in Florence, Vermont. For years, Omya has dumped its waste into unlined pits, which has caused the groundwater under its facility to become contaminated with arsenic and aminoethyl ethanolamine (AEEA). Our clients, the Residents Concerned about Omya (RCO), have been advocating for the protection of this groundwater at this site for over seven years.
On Monday, Judge Wright of the Environmental Court ruled in RCO's favor and determined that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) must conduct a public trust analysis when issuing a waste disposal certification for activities that may impact groundwater. This ruling is the first interpretation of Vermont's 2008 law designating groundwater of the State as a public trust resource. Accordingly, the ENRLC has played an important part in establishing a groundbreaking precedent that will help protect the groundwater resources of the State for future generations of Vermonters. Omya's final certification has been vacated, and the final certification has been remanded to ANR to perform this analysis. We anticipate that Omya will appeal the decision to the Vermont Supreme Court, and the ENRLC will continue to represent RCO in those proceedings.
The ENRLC would like to congratulate attorneys Sheryl Dickey, David Mears, Patrick Parenteau, Ben Rajotte, and twenty-one student clinicians whose hard work has made this important victory possible.
Jamie Baker Roskie
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