First Environment has been retained by Land O’ Lakes for expert services in two proceedings regarding the Hudson Oil Refinery Superfund Site located in Cushing, Oklahoma. One is a matter currently stayed before the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB); the other is a civil cost recovery action filed against Land O’ Lakes by the U.S. Department of Justice. Land O’ Lakes is the successor by merger to Midland Cooperatives, which owned and operated the refinery from the early 1940s up to its sale to Hudson in 1977.
From 1915 to 1982, the Hudson Refinery produced liquid propane gas, gasoline, aviation fuel, diesel fuel, and other fuel oils. The refinery operated with a throughput of 19,000 barrels per day which categorized it as a medium sized operation. As a result of these operations, dozens of contaminants have been detected at the site, including but not limited to acetone, asbestos, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, arsenic, phenolic compounds, benzo(a)pyrene, benzo(a)anthracene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene, thallium, vanadium, xylenes, and bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate.
The refinery has been the subject of several regulatory and legal actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from the mid-1980s, including a Corrective Action under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); an emergency removal action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA); a CERCLA non-time critical removal action; a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) issued by EPA under CERCLA authority; and a current CERCLA cost recovery action.
For the EAB matter, First Environment reviewed the regulatory history of the site and detailed the history of its refining operations as well as the development of RCRA regulations specific to refineries and the application of CERCLA’s petroleum exclusion.
First Environment issued a lengthy affidavit based on its evaluation of historical operations on and near the site, review of activities required by EPA, historical site data, and refinery operational background information. The review included consideration of filings by other experts and fact witnesses. Specific topics of focus included:
- Midland’s maintenance of the refinery and Hudson’s turnovers
- RCRA waste streams and EPA’s mis-characterization of tar-like materials as KO87 Waste
- Leaks and spills covered by the petroleum exclusion
In the ongoing civil matter involving the U.S. Department of Justice, First Environment has been supporting counsel in response to various interrogatories and requests for admissions.