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Our Success Stories

Potentially Responsible Parties Research for an Industrialized East Coast Waterway

A group of corporations hired Heritage to develop operational summaries for potentially responsible parties (PRP) determined to be present around an east coast waterway from the late 1800s through the early 21st century. Heritage historians wrote reports for each PRP based on materials that the client provided as well as additional research we performed at government agencies, libraries, archives, and online databases. Our reports helped identify dates of operation, historic methods of manufacturing or processing, contaminants of concern, environmental pathways, and corporate succession. This litigation support effort is currently being used by our clients, outside counsel, engineers, and expert witnesses.

Information collected by Heritage:

  • Deeds and titles
  • Company histories
  • Permits
  • Releases and discharges reports
  • Types and volumes of wastes generated
  • Environmental conditions including water quality studies and contamination reviews
  • Chemicals and materials used in industrial processes
  • Waste disposal
  • Government involvement or contracts
  • Financial viability

For all documentation Heritage produced digital images, rendered the text searchable (OCR), and prepared for inclusion in clients’ existing 3rd party database. Heritage used its secure FTP site to coordinate sharing, updating, and delivering materials and reports between researcher/writers, other consultants, and the clients.

Smelter Contamination in a Small Northwest Town

During research to document constructive notice, Heritage examined historic newspapers related to the actions of a smelter company, government agencies, the public, and other entities involved in a class action toxic tort suit. We searched physical and online archives for a five to six-year time period, including examining microfilm and collecting relevant articles. Our document management team scanned the documents, linked them to a project database, and gave them to the client to use during negotiations and trial. The client prevailed at the summary judgment and the action was dismissed.

"Usual and Accustomed” Treaty Support

Attorneys for multiple Native American Tribes hired Heritage to search for and collect evidence regarding the Tribes’ usual and accustomed ocean hunting and fishing places. Spanning a 100 year time period, the historical information collected contained details about ocean resource use by Native people including:

  • Contact with non-Indian explorers, government expeditions, fur traders, independent travelers and ethnologists
  • Indian oral histories, traditional stories, and material culture
  • Distance and direction from shore of Tribal fishing expeditions
  • Tools and transportation used in the pursuit of ocean wildlife

Heritage researched maps, ship logs, journals, letters, photos, newspaper stories, oral histories, published and unpublished manuscripts, and other information passed down through time from parties in the area of interest. Providing the client with document images that were text searchable and linked to an abstract database helped keep the short project timeline possible and reports developed from it were helpful and timely.

War-Time Production Plant, New Jersey

Heritage researched World War II federal involvement at an ordnance and chemical manufacturing facility in New Jersey during World War II. Research highlighted the level of control exerted by the government over the operation of the facility. Heritage located contracts between the government and the private operator covering a 15-year time period during which the government acknowledged deficiencies in the work performed and products received from the operator. The government had such knowledge based on numerous site investigations and the presence of government inspectors on-site. These documents reported the disposal of defective products and other wastes, also.

Heritage researched the chain of succession to assess liabilities of subsequent property and corporate owners, also. Our efforts untangled a web of transactions in which the original entity and its assets merged and passed through several companies, two of which remained financially viable. Our client, the current property owner, presented the information collected by Heritage to the leading successor to facilitate settlement between the parties. Settlement was reached favorably for our client with the successor assuming the burden of pursuing the federal government for its liabilities.

Clark Fork Project, Montana

Heritage provided historical and information management services for a confidential client involved in one of the nation's largest Superfund sites. The time-span covered during the course of research extended from the first discovery of gold in western Montana, ca. 1860, to the present. The work effort focused on collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting information that identified and quantified mining and mineral processing activities that caused current environmental problems. Research quantified baseline environmental conditions for water quality, fish and wildlife populations, and forest conditions; mining and milling operations with respect to ownership, processes, production, and waste disposal; stream alterations; and state and federal liability for endorsing and permitting certain harmful practices.

Heritage retrieved more than 280,000 pages of documentation from numerous sources and designed a searchable, relational database providing document abstracts and a basis for bibliographies, chronologies, and topical reports. Abstracts provided a basic synopsis of relevant information from each document and identification of them with topical categories designed to answer fundamental research questions composed by the client. Secondly, topical chronologies and narratives facilitated the flow of information to several interested parties. Finally, operational and site histories provided information concerning specific entities or geographic areas. Attorneys used the information collected by Heritage in preparation of litigation relating to the Superfund site. Thus far, the information has supported the client's claims reflected in a court decision assessing significantly lower natural resource damage costs than originally asked by the state.

Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor Pollution, California

Heritage investigated the origin and impacts of pollution in Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor in relation to litigation involving our client, Stauffer Management Company. The litigation charged that DDT produced by our client's predecessor, Montrose Chemical Company, was discharged through the sewer system into the harbor beginning in 1947 and continuing until 1972. Additionally, the suit claimed that the DDT in the harbor was the primary source of degradation to the surrounding aquatic environment.

Heritage investigated numerous topics falling under four broad categories: activities at military installations that might have discharged DDT or PCBs, which have a similar chemical makeup to that of DDT; ocean dumping of hazardous wastes; sewer operations that affected water quality in the harbor; and studies on the health of the aquatic environment and the impacts on it from a variety of sources. For each topic, Heritage identified and collected substantial documentation supporting the client's assertions that many entities not considered previously held some portion of liability for the pollution in the harbor. Of particular note was information stating that DDT should not be held as the sole source for the environmental degradation of the harbor.