Hawkins Parnell Achieves Victory for Fuel Tanker Against Environmental Contamination Claims
August 4, 2023 (Atlanta, GA) – Hawkins Parnell & Young successfully defended a fuel hauling tanker truck company against claims it was responsible for a hazardous materials spill in Augusta, Georgia. Hawkins Parnell partner Todd Alley of the Atlanta and South Carolina offices represented the fuel hauling company.
In November 2021, hundreds of gallons of an oily, fuel-like substance was found to have spilled onto the ground and contaminated a creek in Augusta, resulting in an environmental clean-up costing the City of Augusta hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the ensuing investigation by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD), it was determined that a tanker truck belonging to the fuel hauling company had been parked in a large parking lot used by tractor-trailer drivers to park their vehicles overnight. The Georgia EPD concluded that the oily substance which had contaminated the creek had come from the fuel hauling company’s truck while it was parked overnight and sought to have the fuel hauling company pay for the clean-up efforts.
The fuel hauling company, from the start, denied that its truck was the source of any spill or contamination as the truck, while parked overnight at the lot, was empty at the time and could not have discharged any substance. By pursuing multiple investigative angles, including conducting GPS mapping of the movements of the truck; detailing records of amounts and types of fuel carried and delivered by the truck; conducting site inspections at the location of the alleged spill and the location where fuel is acquired for deliveries; and by spending a day riding shotgun on a tanker truck to learn the specific methods of and regulations related to the hauling and delivery of fuel, Todd was able to present a conclusive defense to the Georgia EPD and head off any enforcement action.
The environmental clean-up company that remediated the contamination, however, was still owed hundreds of thousands of dollars and petitioned the federal government, through the National Pollution Funds Center (NPFC) administered by the US Coast Guard, for reimbursement as the matter involved contamination of navigable waters of the United States. In turn, the NPFC sought to determine if the fuel hauling company was responsible for the contamination of the water which, if it were, meant the fuel hauling company would be liable for the costs of the clean-up. After Todd presented the case to the NPFC, the NPFC determined that the fuel hauling company was not responsible for the contamination.
About Hawkins Parnell & Young
Hawkins Parnell & Young is a national defense litigation firm that has represented many of the largest and most well-known companies in high-risk litigation and business disputes. The 250-strong litigation team works with clients to develop winning defense strategies and, if necessary, try cases to verdict in all 50 states.