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Ryan has a diverse environmental practice that includes representing companies in complex environmental litigation, government enforcement actions, and CERCLA cost recovery and contribution cases. He represents clients in state and federal courts and before environmental agencies in Illinois and across the United States.

He regularly counsels companies on compliance with state and federal environmental laws and regulations, assists clients with internal investigations, and provides guidance on responding to information requests. Ryan has worked extensively for clients in the manufacturing, waste, recycling, and environmental services industries.

Environmental non-profit Tennessee Riverkeeper has filed a Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suit against the City of Lebanon alleging unlawful discharges of multiple per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the City’s inactive municipal landfill. Riverkeeper acknowledges that the landfill has a valid NPDES permit that authorizes the discharge of treated leachate, but it nevertheless alleges that the discharges constitute a CWA violation because none of the PFAS are specifically listed as authorized “pollutants” in the facility’s permit.

Section 301(a) of the CWA generally prohibits the discharge of “any pollutant” from a point source into a water of the united states, except pursuant to a permit or in compliance with certain listed section of the CWA. “Pollutant” is defined expansively as “dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, sewage, garbage, sewage sludge, munitions, chemical wastes, biological materials, radioactive materials, heat, wrecked or discarded equipment, rock, sand, cellar dirt and industrial, municipal, and agricultural waste discharged into water.” 33 U.S.C.A. § 1362. Thus, potential liability is broad. But it is certainly not unlimited. In cases like this, where the defendant has a permit and is not alleged to be in violation of any specific discharge limit, a citizen suit claim could face a number of potential hurdles.Continue Reading Closed Tennessee Landfill Sued Under the Clean Water Act for Alleged PFAS in Permitted Discharges

On October 18, 2021, EPA issued its, “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024.”  This roadmap sets out EPA’s action plan for minimizing the release of PFAS into the environment.  In the Roadmap, EPA emphasizes the need to “get upstream of the problem” and to “hold polluters accountable.” In the field of hazardous waste, there is a well-established mechanism for minimizing the uncontrolled release of contaminants into the environment, specifically, RCRA’s “cradle-to-grave” tracking system. Under this system, generators of solid waste must determine whether their waste is hazardous.  If so, they must fill out a hazardous waste manifest, which tracks waste from the point of generation to a treatment or disposal facility permitted to safely manage the material. Further, once a new waste enters RCRA’s hazardous waste program, it becomes subject to the land disposal restriction program and EPA must set treatment standards for newly listed wastes within 6 months. 42 U.S.C. § 6924(g).  Continue Reading EPA Must List PFAS as a Hazardous Waste or Pass the Baton to Congress to Take Action