We have significant experience in representing our port industry clients in environmental and land use matters, including claims directed at remediating contaminated properties and submerged lands, restoring injured natural resources, managing dredge material and dredge disposal facilities, and prosecuting claims designed to recoup economic and property damages resulting from a nuisance or trespass impacting commerce or created by hazardous materials.
Additionally, we represent port industry clients in a broad range of commercial and construction disputes, tariff interpretations and enforcement matters, dredging and dredge material management, United States Army Corps of Engineers regulations and permitting, lease and easement negotiations and litigation, and emergency response and security measures.
Port Operations and Natural Resource Damages
Through extensive work with ports, maritime terminal operators and other transportation-sector clients on some of the country’s largest harbors, bays and river systems, we have developed a unique capacity to handle extremely complex contaminated sediment and natural resource damages (NRD) matters. These claims may encompass injuries to bays, rivers and other surface waters, wetlands, sediments and soil, groundwater, wildlife, fish, birds and other biota—as well as the economic consequences of such injuries—associated with hazardous substances and environmental degradation. Thus, injuries to natural resources can have a substantial impact upon ports, the channels of commerce and the public, and claims for such damages can be truly significant.
Through handling multiple, significant contaminated sediment and NRD claims across the country, our attorneys have gained the education, knowledge and experience necessary to provide our clients with exceptional service and counsel at these very complex sites. We routinely work with many of the country’s preeminent experts in a variety of disciplines involved in contaminated sediment and NRD assessment and damages matters. Moreover, our representation of state trustees, port authorities and the regulated community allows us an understanding of contaminated sediment and NRD matters that is truly uncommon.
Port-Related Policy Work
Our team represents ports industry clients and waterways in obtaining authorizations and appropriations for work within federal waterways under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. Our advocacy work includes starting at the District level, through the Division level to Corps Headquarters and the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. We have also worked with the Office of Management and Budget in order to obtain new start authority or support for funding port industry projects. Our Washington team also routinely works with the Congressional authorizers and appropriators for both the Army Corps of Engineers and the Coast Guard.
Port-Related Environmental Litigation
At Kelley Drye, we represent port industry clients in environmental matters across the country. We have experience representing our clients in prosecuting and defending a wide variety of environmental actions, including cost recovery actions, contribution actions, CERCLA, RCRA, CWA and OPA litigation, nuisance and property damage litigation, natural resource damages litigation, and many other matters relating to contamination and impaired real property. We also regularly deal with sediment and dredge material issues affecting ports and maritime terminal operators.
Likewise, corporate responsibility for historical environmental issues is often a key issue in environmental litigation, and we have extensive experience in tracing corporate ownership and liabilities to the responsible party and defending against such claims. Similarly, expert witnesses are an essential component of any environmental case. Through decades of practice and educational backgrounds in government, earth sciences, economics, ecology and the social sciences, our attorneys are able to work at a very high level of cooperation and understanding with expert environmental, technical and economic witnesses.
Port-Related Business Litigation
For more than a decade, our attorneys have counseled our port industry clients in day-to-day operations, serving as functional “in-house” counsel. As a result, we have uncommon experience in port-related transactional matters and operations. Likewise, we have represented port industry clients in a broad range of commercial and construction disputes, dock collision and vessel damage to waterfront facilities, tariff interpretations and enforcement matters, issues affecting dredging and dredge material management, lease and easement negotiations and litigation, and emergency response and security measures. These matters require specialized knowledge of port operations, maritime law and waterfront terminal regulations that our attorneys possess.
Port Environmental Regulatory and Land Use
Regulatory proceedings are often precursors to or components of environmental litigation. Our attorneys have the practical and technical experience necessary to achieve our port industry clients’ goals within the regulatory process, whether those goals are reducing or recovering the cost of remediation, meeting regulatory and reporting requirements, responding to spills or agency investigations or proving responsibility for a release. We work with our clients, as well as other responsible parties and governmental agencies, to achieve practical solutions to environmental problems within the regulatory process or to best position our clients in the event of future litigation.
In addition to representing port industry clients in environmental regulatory and litigation matters, our attorneys also represent clients in efforts to limit or avoid exposure to environmental problems. Because our attorneys regularly litigate environmental matters, we see firsthand the issues that could be avoided or mitigated with proper environmental risk management and due diligence. We work with our clients to develop and implement contractual and regulatory safeguards to environmental issues, including environmental indemnities and warranties, cleanup and remediation agreements and environmental insurance, as well as participation in state voluntary cleanup programs and federal Brownfields initiatives.