Our lawyers successfully defend companies and corporate executives in all types of environmental crimes and worker safety government investigations, enforcement actions and prosecutions brought by federal, state and local agencies. We work closely with corporations to manage crises arising from major industrial accidents and other potential reputational risks. We have performed many internal investigations, and counsel clients on mandatory and voluntary government disclosures, as well as compliance issues and programs.
Our senior lawyers bring 30 years’ experience in the environmental crimes area and include former assistant United States attorneys, a former Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section at the United States Department of Justice, and a founder of the Philadelphia Environmental Crimes Task Force. Our team is supported by the firm’s Environmental and Energy Group, which brings great subject area knowledge and regulatory experience.
Our representative matters include:
- Defended a major chemical manufacturer in a multi-agency federal investigation arising from a series of industrial accidents that occurred in a short time frame and resulted in the release of toxic gases and the death of one employee. We quarterbacked the responses to multiple agency investigations and a large joint defense team that included counsel representing individual employees. The prosecution of the corporation or any individuals was declined.
- Defended a major oil company in a federal environmental crimes investigation that arose from an industrial accident at one of the company’s refineries that shut down the entire refinery and caused unlawful discharges to the neighboring river as well as unlawful air emissions. Prosecution was declined.
- Defended an oil company in connection with a state attorney general investigation relating to alleged longstanding unpermitted air emissions from a storage unit at the refinery. Prosecution was declined.
- Conducted an internal investigation of possible RCRA violations, including falsification of records, at a Midwest oil refinery. The investigation uncovered the responsible individuals and scope of the problem. We advised the client on follow-up actions, including voluntary disclosures, revisions of the facility’s compliance programs and other corrective actions. Our approach helped to build trust with the regulators, and resulted in the imposition of a de minimis civil fine and no referral for criminal prosecution.
- Represented an environmental laboratory accused by a whistleblower of widespread falsification of lab results. We presented a technical defense rebutting all accusations and prosecution was declined.
- Represented an oil refinery manager in connection with a refinery explosion that resulted in the death of two contract employees. The company was prosecuted by both the state attorney general and the U.S. Justice Department, but no criminal charges were brought against our client.
- Conducted numerous internal investigations resulting from complaints by employees or former employees, including allegations that a chemical plant was falsifying environmental reports, another chemical plant had failed to report accidental releases of hazardous substances, and numerous wetlands and Endangered Species Act violations had occurred in connection with a multistate linear construction project. We fully developed the facts, in some cases establishing that the complaints were without merit, and in other cases counseling clients on personnel issues, disclosure obligations and other corrective actions.
- Defended a nonprofit organization accused of violating the Marine Mammal Act while creating a documentary film. Although the U.S. Department of Justice brought criminal charges against another party for the same incidents, prosecution against our client was declined.
- Represented an energy client in connection with a power facility’s violations of its surface water discharge permit, resulting in a major fishkill. After an extensive investigation by the state attorney general's office, criminal prosecution of the company or any individuals was declined. We also successfully represented the client in a related regulatory investigation, resulting in no adverse licensing action being taken by the government.
- Represented a manager at a manufacturing facility where unlawful discharge resulted in a fishkill. Prosecution of the manager was declined.