Environmental Law

Mirick O’Connell’s Environmental Law Group is an interdisciplinary team of seasoned environmental, land use, litigation, and municipal attorneys assisting our clients in all aspects of environmental litigation, enforcement, regulatory appeals and permitting. We also work with an extensive network of experienced environmental and engineering consultants to deliver a custom-designed approach to every matter. Our clients include manufacturers, developers, property owners and municipalities in waste site cleanup disputes, cost recovery actions and related environmental insurance claims, as well as enforcement and permitting matters involving air, water, wetlands and endangered species. From cutting-edge issues involving emerging contaminants like PFAS and 1,4 dioxane at landfills and manufacturing facilities to more common releases involving chlorinated solvents, oil and gasoline at dry cleaners and gasoline stations, our team has the knowledge, experience, network and contacts to navigate the evolving landscape of federal, state and local regulation of our environment.

Representative Matters

  • Obtained a judgment and award of attorney’s fees for a property owner under M.G.L. c. 21E (the Massachusetts Superfund statute), and successfully defended the judgment on appeal, against a municipality requiring it to conduct a multi-million dollar assessment and remediation of an historic landfill.

  • Represented a municipality in the defense of a citizen suit claims alleging 1,4 dioxane contamination from a municipal landfill under the federal Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and state claims under M.G.L. c. 21E and various tort theories.

  • Represented a customer of a barrel recycling facility in federal litigation under CERCLA involving a Rhode Island site contaminated with dioxin.

  • Represented an international bank in a dispute involving TCE contamination of a distressed property briefly owned by our client after a foreclosure.

  • Successfully obtained the rescission of our client’s purchase of a 78-acre property based on the seller’s failure to disclose known-PCB contamination.

  • Represented a municipality in litigation and drafting regulations related to the potential siting of a soil reclamation facility.

  • Obtained a multi-million dollar arbitration award and judgment for breach of contract and unfair business practices claim on behalf of a leading designer of pollution control systems for power plants.

  • Represented a regional school committee in the defense of various constitutional and tort claims involving the alleged lead contamination of drinking water.

  • Represented property owners, operators and municipalities in various wetland enforcement actions under the Massachusetts Wetlands Act and state and local wetlands regulations.

  • Represented a Massachusetts municipality before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in a case of first impression regarding regulatory takings.

  • Represented numerous clients in a variety of industries (including technology, manufacturing, automotive and construction) defending and resolving environmental compliance actions brought by State and federal regulators.

Building on Lands Formerly Used as Railroad Right-of-Ways- An Amendment That May Simplify the Permitting Process

For the last forty-five (45) years, obtaining a permit to build any type of structure on any former railroad right-of-way in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has been far from seamless. Massachusetts General Law c.40 §54A, enacted by the legislature in …

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MassDEP Working on a Drinking Water MCL for PFAS

Several weeks ago, I posted that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) proposed a new groundwater standard for PFAS contamination under the Massachusetts Contingency Plan regulations (310 CMR 40.0000).  Public comment on the proposed regulations remains open through July …

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Appearance of Bias Not Enough to Invalidate Appraisal – Unless the Contract Says Otherwise

When parties enter a contract involving an appraised value of real estate, they need eventual finality with respect to that appraised value, but they also want fairness in the appraisal process. In Buffalo-Water 1, LLC v. Fidelity Real Estate Company, …

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BREAKING: MassDEP Announces Proposed Revisions to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan, Including a Reportable Concentration for PFAS at 20 ppt

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced proposed revisions to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (310 CMR 40.0000).  This begins a 3-month public comment period that will end July 19, 2019, and will include four public hearings. According to MassDEP, …

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EPA Issues Interpretive Statement: Groundwater Discharges are Not Subject to the Clean Water Act

In a not-so-stunning development, the EPA on Monday issued an Interpretive Statement putting to rest speculation on EPA’s position as to whether groundwater discharges are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act (CWA).  The answer:  “No.”  EPA’s 57-page …

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Third Party Beneficiary Rights in Construction Contracts

Last week the United States District Court in Massachusetts issued an important decision concerning third party beneficiary rights in construction contracts.  In Arco Ingenieros, S.A. de C.V. v. CDM International Inc., Civil Action No. 18-12348-PBS, a design-builder incurred damages due …

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Title Defect? Here’s How to Keep Your Deal on Track

You are under contract to sell a commercial or residential property and your attorney tells you two weeks prior to closing that the buyer’s title search has revealed a title defect. While there is a large array of issues that …

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Short-Term Rental Law Takes Effect July 1st

Governor Baker recently signed “An Act Regulating and Insuring Short-Term Rentals”, imposing new taxes, registration and inspection requirements, and other rules governing the short-term rental of homes and residential units through Airbnb, VRBO, and similar platforms. Overview: The new law …

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Recovery of Attorney’s Fees and Costs in Construction Disputes

When construction projects become construction disputes, contractors and suppliers start thinking about how to recover their attorney’s fees and other legal costs.  Massachusetts follows the “American Rule” for recovery of legal expenses that states each party must pay their own …

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Construction Insurance: Game of Risk

Construction work is risky by nature.  Common risks include natural disasters, inclement weather, flood or fire, accidents t hat cause property damage or bodily injury, and the failure of one or more parties to perform their designated responsibilities, resulting in …

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A Landfill Is Not a “Point Source” Under the Clean Water Act, So Says the 4th Circuit and D.Mass.

Two recent rulings address the issue of whether a landfill is a “point source” under the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. (CWA), Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric et al and Toxics Action Center et al v. …

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The New Massachusetts Clean Energy Bill: Solar Advocates Left Waiting for the Next Installment

On July 31, 2018, the final day of its formal session, the Massachusetts legislature passed H. 4857, An Act to Advance Clean Energy, which Governor Baker signed into law on August 9. The bill represents several important steps forward in …

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Our Practices