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Superfund Issues

Peter has represented clients who have been identified as "potentially responsible parties by EPA" in connection with many federal Superfund sites, including some of the largest sites in California, such as Operating Industries, and the San Fernando and San Gabriel Superfund sites. While serving as in-house counsel at Southern California Gas Company, he chaired the legal committee for the OII Site Steering Committee. He later served as general counsel for the corporation established to carry out the first stage of the cleanup of that site. While an in-house attorney at Unocal, he represented that company on steering committees throughout the western United States.

In addition to his corporate employers, Peter has represented individuals who have been identified as "potentially responsible parties by EPA." He was successful in getting two of his clients dismissed from cost recovery litigation in connection with a Superfund site on the basis of an "Ability to Pay" agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency. He also assisted a client in selling a property adjacent to a Superfund site to that site's steering committee.

Under the federal Superfund law, EPA has extensive authority to request information from owners of properties on which there may have been a release of hazardous substances (so called "104 (e) letters"). California has similar authority to issue information requests under its laws. The information requests in these letters can be difficult for a non-expert to understand, and are often accompanied by technical definitions. Also, the way answers are phrased can have an impact on whether EPA requests additional information, or even takes further actions to require investigation or cleanup. Peter Niemiec has counselled clients in responding to such letters, assisting in provide responses that are complete, accurate, responsive to the requests and the agency's real concerns, and do not make any unnecessary admissions.