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.

Dave McCay quoted in Telegram & Gazette article, "Fight to protect drinking water from 'forever chemicals' begins to boil"

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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.

Important Update – The Impact of Coronavirus on the Construction Industry

Since our post on March 18, a lot has happened from both a health and regulatory standpoint as far as the impact from the outbreak of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) on local and state construction practice.  Here is an update, as of …

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The Impact of Coronavirus on the Construction Industry

The outbreak of COVID-19 (“coronavirus”) has impacted all industries, including construction.  First and foremost, we are in the midst of a public health crisis, and the safety and well-being of all project participants should be top of mind.  We are …

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Executive Order Loosens Open Meeting Law Requirements During Coronavirus Emergency

Governor Baker signed an Executive Order relieving government boards and committees from compliance with certain Open Meeting Law requirements during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency. The Order gives public bodies greater leeway to hold closed-door and remote meetings, so that government agencies …

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SJC Reverses Appeals Court on Standing Requirements Under the Zoning Act – With Record Speed

All zoning conformities are alike, to rephrase Tolstoy’s famous opening line, but each zoning-related injury is injurious in its own way. Such has been the time-honored tenant of Massachusetts law for abutter standing under the Zoning Act.  To successfully challenge …

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PFAS Concerns Mounting for Cities and Towns as MassDEP Proposes Maximum Contaminant Level in Drinking Water

Many of our readers will be aware that on December 27, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) proposed a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS in drinking water of 20 parts per trillion (0.02 ug/L or ppt) for six PFAS …

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Building the Boroughs: A Year in Review

In 2019, Mirick O’Connell’s permitting attorneys were proud to help our clients, large and small, with local approvals in Marlborough for 6 great projects. Thank you to our clients and the City of Marlborough for a wonderful year! Click here …

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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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