Underground Storage Tanks (USTs): Working With the MDEQ
Varnum has represented numerous clients that were former owners of property that had contained underground storage tanks (USTs). Each was notified by the MDEQ that they would be required to engage in corrective action at their former properties. Through factual investigation, Varnum was able to establish to the satisfaction of the MDEQ that the clients had not used the USTs and had taken appropriate action if and when they obtained knowledge of the existence of the USTs. As a result, the MDEQ found that the clients had no liability for any corrective action.
The Michigan Underground Storage Tank Financial Assurance (MUSTFA) Fund Administrator denied MUSTFA reimbursement for corrective action expenses incurred by a contractor client relating to soil and groundwater contamination from an underground storage tank (UST) located on its property. The MUSTFA Administrator claimed that the contractor had failed to properly bid the corrective action work as required by State law. Varnum appealed the denial through the MUSTFA Advisory Board to the MDEQ Director arguing that an exception to the bidding rule was applicable. The appeal was successful and the client was reimbursed over $100,000 of expenses.
A developer client was denied MUSTFA reimbursement for corrective action expenses incurred in remediating soil contamination caused by UST releases at a development site. The MUSTFA Fund Administrator denied the claim for reimbursement on the grounds that the UST had been used for the storage of heating oil that was consumed on-site. Varnum appealed the denial through the MUSTFA Advisory Board, and presented evidence that the UST in question had been used to fuel vehicles used by the former owner of the property. The MDEQ reversed the denial and reimbursed the client for its corrective action expenses incurred in connection with the UST.