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