Settlement plays a fundamental role in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (“EPA”) Superfund enforcement program. Potentially Responsible Parties (“PRPs”) seeking to resolve their liability through the settlement process should take note that EPA recently issued two new guidance memoranda on its settlement procedures. One memorandum sets forth revised procedures for managing the duration of remedial design/remedial action negotiations and notably encourages the use of orders known as Unilateral Administrative Orders (“UAOs”) in the face of unsuccessful negotiations.
The recent memorandum, entitled Revised Policy on Managing the Duration of Remedial Design/Remedial Action Negotiations, and dated September 21, 2012, is aimed at strengthening EPA’s negotiation practice, shortening the duration of negotiations, and achieving timely settlements. Of note to PRPs is that EPA’s new guidance strongly endorses use of UAOs, stating: “We encourage use of EPA’s UAO authority in appropriate cases as a key component to expediting the RD/RA negotiation process.” The Guidance further cautions that “Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) should know during negotiations that EPA is willing and ready to issue a UAO if they unreasonably delay settlement.” The memorandum is available here for further review.