One of the most problematic and expensive environmental laws in the United States is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensating and Liability Act (CERCLA) or Superfund as it is commonly known was the subject of a 1980 court case that put CERCLA to the test. In United States v. Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company (NEPACCO), the government sued NEPACCO for illegal dumping of toxic waste and then forcing NEPACCO to pay for the clean up costs. .
This case was one of the first cases in which the government used the recently passed CERCLA for legal basis of the charges. CERCLA was signed into law on December 11, 1980 by President Jimmy Carter (Chapman, 189). NEPACCO during the years of 1970 until 1972 had produced hexachlorophene at its Verona, Missouri plant. The defendants Edwin Michaels, president of NEPACCO and John W. Lee was the Vice President, also Ronald Mills was the shift supervisor at the plant. The processing of hexachlorophene also produced toxic by products such as toluene and dioxin. In July of 1971, Mills with assistance had taken 85 barrels of toxic waste and buried them in a trench located at the Denny Farm site (ELR, Sec. 2). .
In 1979 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had receive an anonymous tip that toxic waste was buried at Denny Farm. In April of 1980 the EPA had undergone .
an investigation which revealed the high concentrations of Dioxin had leaked from the severely deteriorated barrels (Plater, 267). The site was then closed and the drums were .
moved into a concrete bunker that is located on the Denny Farm in 1971. In August of 1980 the government filled a complaint against NEPACCO, and charges against Mills Michaels and Lee, who were responsible for the disposal of the waste, and monetary reimbursement for the Syntex Corporation who had cleaned the wastes, originally under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (Plater, 267).