First Environment was retained as an expert witness on a litigation case involving a breach of contract for the purchase and sale of large tract of developable land that was contaminated with residual levels of PCBs and metals. The site was once a sand and gravel mining operation and a farm and consisted of more than 1,200 acres that was to have been built-out with one-acre parcels containing single family homes. Common areas, recreational facilities and community centers were also to be built. As the land was slated for development as a residential subdivision, the transaction was postponed due to the presence of contaminated sewage treatment plant sludge which caused financial damages.
First Environment developed expert opinions regarding the obligations of the parties under the contract, including the scope and cost of the cleanup work necessary to delineate and remove the sludge. We considered contractual obligations, such as the parties’ duty to clean up the site in spite of the sludge discharge permits issued to local wastewater treatment plants by the State of Maryland. First Environment also developed the scope of work for the cleanup to determine contractual damages and adequacy of specific performance as a contractual remedy. Monetary damages included the costs associated with the delineation of contaminated areas where sludge was deposited some 30 years prior to the scheduled development of the site. To calculate damages, we delineated sludge using statistical methods. We evaluated specific performance options by determining the remedial techniques and costs required for the cleanup of the site to allow for unrestricted use of the land that would support Tier I level housing to be built. This level of development required that all of the sludge be removed so that development could proceed without deed restrictions or engineering controls. This was the most stringent remediation scenario and guaranteed the protectiveness of human health and the environment.
First Environment submitted an expert report to the court as well as a rebuttal report challenging the defendants’ expert opinion. After the expert reports were served, First Environment’s expert was deposed. The case has gone to trial but a decision on the scope of the required remediation at the site to remove the sludge has yet to be rendered. Nevertheless, First Environment’s opinions were invaluable in establishing that complete removal of the sludge was necessary to safely develop the Site for housing for families.