2003 CPEO Military List Archive

From: CPEO Moderator <cpeo@cpeo.org>
Date: 8 Dec 2003 16:00:35 -0000
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: [CPEO-MEF] Trial begins in groundwater-cleanup suit
Trial begins in groundwater-cleanup suit
Miami-Dade County is seeking to recover more than $100 million in
cleanup costs related to the Federal government's past operations at the
By Ina Paiva Cordle, icordle@herald.com
Posted on Sat, Dec. 06, 2003

For decades, contaminants seeped into the groundwater and soil around
Miami International Airport. Now, the county and federal government are
squaring off in a case about how much the United States owes for the
environmental cleanup.

Miami-Dade County sued the United States in May 2001, seeking more than
$100 million in cleanup costs. The trial began Friday in Miami before
District Court Judge Jose Martinez, who will rule in the case.

The county is arguing that the government's operations on the west side
of the airport from 1942 to 1970 polluted the groundwater with vinyl
chloride, a byproduct from an engine degreasing solvent. That, in turn,
has caused a potential health hazard for the public, as people can
inhale the substance when private wells are used for lawn sprinkling.

''This is a case about government responsibility and the cost of that
responsibility,'' said attorney Mitchell Rotbert, who gave the county's
opening arguments.

The federal view: ''This case is about a landlord who for decades
allowed his property to be polluted and now is trying to have the
biggest customer of one of the landlord's tenants pay for the cleanup of
the property,'' said Lewis M. Barr, the senior environmental trial
counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice.

During World War II, the airport was used as a major military base with
extensive aircraft and engine overhaul operations. Afterward, the
government was the sole or primary customer of Aerodex, a private engine
overhaul and maintenance company. It operated at the Miami International
Air Depot until filing for bankruptcy in the mid-1970s, said Assistant
County Attorney Thomas Robertson.

This article can be viewed at:

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