Overview of Our Environmental Law Practice
At Glade Voogt Lopez Smith, our attorneys assist both individuals and companies with environmental law issues. We have experience with issues ranging from compliance with state and federal environmental regulations to dealing with contaminated properties and toxic torts.
From our experience and education in technical fields, such as engineering, we have familiarity and knowledge of these issues that other attorneys do not. Combine our practical knowledge on the subject with years of experience practicing environmental law and it is clear this is what sets us apart.
Our Expertise Areas of Environmental Law
Our clients include homeowners, landowners, businesses, corporations, and developers regarding a range of environmental law issues including:
- Cleanup liability for Colorado Superfund sites
- Dry-cleaning contamination cleanups and litigation
- Environmental class actions
- Environmental due diligence for real estate transactions
- CERCLA, RCRA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and common-law tort claims
- Gas station underground storage tank (UST) contamination cleanups and litigation
- Groundwater contamination
- Insurance recovery for environmental investigations and cleanups
- Property damage cases regarding damage from environmental pollution
- State and federal environmental litigation
- Toxic Torts (interior mold, asbestos, pesticides/insecticides, soil and groundwater contamination)
We have represented companies and individuals in environmental class actions and multi-party cases related to groundwater contamination, pesticides, pipelines, asbestos and mold. We co-counseled the seminal Colorado Supreme Court case on class action certification in Colorado: Jackson v. Unocal and have represented groups of tenants and landowners harmed by asbestos releases.We continue to take on the toughest environmental cases in Denver and throughout Colorado, many of which other law firms refuse to undertake. Whether your home or business has been impacted by pollution or your corporation is facing a government order to clean up contamination, we can help. We represent plaintiffs and defendants alike. For clients that are plaintiffs, we are often able to accept cases on a contingency fee basis.
Asbestos is the name for a category of naturally occurring minerals that have been mined for their useful properties such as thermal insulation, chemical and thermal stability, and high tensile strength; asbestos types include: Chrysotile, Amosite, Crocidolite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite, and Actinolite. Asbestos contains microscopic bundles of fibers that become airborne when disturbed. These fibers are inhaled into the lungs and can cause significant health problems. These health problems include asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer although the latency period for developing these is at least 15-25 years or more. A safe level of exposure to asbestos has not been determined.
Asbestos was, and still is, used in building materials and can be found in homes and commercial buildings throughout the United State. Asbestos was added to insulation, fireproofing, roofing products, shingles, ceiling tiles, floor tiles, vinyl flooring, pipe insulation, mastic, glue, as well as many other products. Asbestos is not hazardous to building occupants in these asbestos-containing materials (ACM) when the ACM is in good condition and not broken apart. It is only when ACM is disturbed or the materials become damaged that it becomes a hazard. When the materials become damaged, the fibers separate and may then become airborne. This condition is called ‘friable’ and periodic inspection of suspect and known ACM should be conducted in all building structures.
Asbestos is highly regulated at the federal, state and local level. Even asbestos in soil cannot be disturbed due to the potential that the fibers may become airborne. If the components of a building that is being demolished or remodeled exceed certain trigger levels, the structure must be inspected by a certified asbestos building inspector. It is very important that a permit is obtained from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Regulation (“CDPHE”) before work begins. Our lawyers can help you understand these complicated regulations before you begin demolition and remodeling and help you contact recommended Asbestos Consulting Firms and asbestos building inspectors. The up to date list of certified inspectors in Colorado is also found here.
Of course, given the prevalence of asbestos in building materials and elsewhere, mistakes do occur and asbestos fibers are released. Our lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with these asbestos spills including their investigation and cleanup. We can help you attempt to obtain insurance recovery for what can be significant cleanup costs and help defend you against enforcement action by the EPA, CDPHE or local authorities. In addition, we’ve also helped certified inspection firms deal with enforcement actions by these governmental entities. Finally, we have represented individuals and business affected by asbestos spills and the significant expenses and damages that can result. We have experience helping people and businesses obtain compensation for these losses through insurance or from the parties that caused the spills.
Gasoline Contamination from Leaking Underground Storage Tanks
Our attorneys have extensive experience dealing with contamination from underground storage tanks (USTs). This includes representing owners of gasoline stations and oil and gas operations. We’ve helped these companies comply with federal and state law and have used our experience and resources to obtain cleanup funding from Colorado’s UST Fund and private insurance.
Additionally, we have represented property owners that have suffered groundwater contamination and benzene infiltration into basements and buildings from leaking underground storage tanks. Many times we represent groups of these property owners in multiple party or class action litigation.
Dry Cleaning Contamination
We have represented large dry cleaning chains across multiple states regarding environmental compliance and investigations and cleanups of dry cleaning solvent contamination including PERC. Although these investigations and cleanups can be very expensive, we have had success obtaining insurance monies and state cleanup fund monies to aid owners with these cleanups. We’ve also defended enforcement actions and helped clients undertake voluntary cleanups of contamination from dry cleaners. Lastly, we have helped property owners that suffer diminution in property value due to PERC contamination in their groundwater and PERC vapors in structures.
Insurance Recovery for Environmental Cleanups
We have extensive experience in obtaining insurance coverage for clients that face significant exposure to huge contamination cleanup costs. Notwithstanding pollution exclusions in most liability policies today, we help clients investigate and potentially litigate insurance policies from decades prior to address historical contamination and its’ cleanup. We also help companies obtain innovative environmental insurance policies to help reduce the risk of future liabilities.
Environmental Due Diligence in Real Estate and Other Transactions
Our experience also includes the acquisition and transfer of contaminated properties and brownfields. We help with the environmental due diligence, contract drafting, inspection and negotiation of limits on liability with contract language and innovative insurance products.
We also assist clients with environmental due diligence and contract drafting when purchasing and selling companies affected by environmental liabilities. We’ve drafted environmental clauses and provisions for a wide variety of transactions, from property leases and real estate contracts to asset transactions. We approach these issues with practical and innovative solutions; such solutions have included the use of the state’s voluntary cleanup programs and Brownfields financing and tax credits to make these deals work.
Environmental Compliance for Companies and Industry
We help companies with all aspects of environmental compliance, permitting and enforcement; this includes generators and other regulated entities, current and former underground storage tank owners and operators, and under all federal, state and local hazardous waste, solid waste, clean air, and clean water laws and regulations. We’ve worked with clients to obtain clean air and clean water permits as well as RCRA and state hazardous waste permits. We help maintain compliance with all environmental laws at every level through advice and auditing and have defended companies against enforcement actions by EPA and many state environmental agencies.
Additionally, we have defended clients against criminal actions related to environmental law. We employ former Assistant United States Attorneys with experience in this area of law. Moreover, our lawyers have considerable experience in defending and prosecuting citizen suit claims for alleged violations of both the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
We’ve represented a large metropolitan area wastewater reclamation district for decades in the area of environmental compliance including defense of enforcement actions, CERCLA issues, clean water compliance and water rights.
Our Environmental Law Practice Attorneys
- Eric J. Voogt, Practice Leader
- Michael J. Glade
- Asher M.B. Ritmiller