Cuccinelli files brief in Campbell County landfill contamination - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Cuccinelli files brief in Campbell County landfill contamination case

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By Amy Trent

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has weighed in on the state Supreme Court case involving the Campbell County landfill that leached contaminants into nearby groundwater.

In an amicus brief issued this month, Cuccinelli said that one of the state laws and one of the federal laws used in the $9 million finding against the county should not be applied. Campbell County had argued that point in its appeal of the ruling.

Cuccinelli’s opinion can be weighed by the court but does not necessarily affect the case, which possibly will be heard in the fall.

In 2002, Claude and Virginia Royal alleged that the county landfill leaked, causing groundwater contamination. In 2005 and 2006, after talks with the county proved unsuccessful, they sued the county.

In 2010, Circuit Court Judge Michael Gamble heard the case and used both Virginia’s water control laws and the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 in finding on behalf of the Royals.

Following Gamble’s decision, the county appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the verdict, on the grounds that the two laws are not applicable and the award granted by the jury excessive.

In the brief, Cuccinelli addresses the intent of each of the laws and their exemptions.

The two laws deal with hazardous discharges but provide exemptions for oil. In the case, the element benzene, which can be an element of oil or exist separately, is argued to have been found in the groundwater at the Twin Oaks manufactured home park in the Yellow Branch area.

As of February 2010 the county had spent $3 million in remediation efforts.

The case, initially on the Supreme Court’s docket for this summer, was delayed and the court asked Cuccinelli for an amicus, or friend of the court, brief.

The Supreme Court has not rescheduled the hearing, although county officials expect the case to be heard in the fall.

The county supervisors are scheduled to discuss Cuccinelli’s brief at the Aug. 2 Board of Supervisors meeting.

 

 

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