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Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker, press release
Applauding belated EPA enforcement effort
April 2, 2004




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Patrick Dorton, (202) 508-9804, patrickdorton@paulhastings.com


Firm Pledges to Press Ahead With Legal Action to Ensure Protection of DC Residents

Washington, DC (April 2, 2004) - Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker (Paul Hastings) and the plaintiffs who have sued the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) and the DC government for their actions related to lead in DC drinking water, today applauded the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that WASA was in violation of applicable federal requirements. 

"While the EPA's action is belated and came only after Paul Hastings gave notice to the EPA that it was in violation of its obligations under the Safe Drinking Water Act, we applaud the EPA recognition that WASA has failed to comply with federal law. We urge the EPA to continue its enforcement efforts," said Charles Patrizia, one of the lawyers leading the Paul Hastings team. "We plan to continue our legal efforts, and if there are formal enforcement proceedings, we will take action to ensure that the interests of DC residents are fully protected."

"The enforcement action marks a milestone in the lead in the DC drinking water crisis," said Chris Cole, a lead Paul Hastings attorney on the case. "It is the first time that the independent, federal agency whose obligation it is to regulate safe drinking water has specifically found that WASA violated federal law in its response to the discovery of lead in the District's drinking water."

On March 5, Paul Hastings served the EPA notice of intent to sue under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. That notice informed the EPA and other agencies that the plaintiffs, represented by Paul Hastings, would sue the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act unless, within a 60 day period allowed by the statute, the EPA took specific enforcement actions against WASA to ensure compliance with federal requirements.

The Paul Hastings notice described in detail how WASA recurrently violated federal requirements over two years and is continuing to violate these same requirements. The notice also emphasized that the EPA itself was at fault for failing to exercise its oversight responsibility over WASA. 

The Paul Hastings notice letter also asked the EPA to compel WASA to expand its testing program to homes that WASA has not currently tested, and to send filters or alternate water supplied to all homes that need it. EPA has since ordered WASA to expand its testing program, and to retest homes in which it has recently replaced service lines. The EPA has also ordered WASA to distribute up to 23,000 water pitchers to homes with lead service lines. The plaintiffs believe the filter distribution program is still inadequate, and have asked a DC Superior Court Judge to intervene and order much wider distribution. 

"We will try to work with the EPA to maintain its renewed enforcement commitment, and we hope that WASA will now promptly bring itself into compliance with the law and with its obligation to the DC community," added Mr. Cole.

WASA now has 21 days to formally respond to the EPA's allegations. If the EPA's allegations are upheld, WASA can be fined over $25,000 per day for each day the violation continues.

Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker LLP, founded in 1951, is an international law firm, representing Fortune 500 companies with nearly 950 attorneys located in 13 offices: Atlanta, Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco, Shanghai, Stamford, Tokyo, and Washington, D.C.

For more information or to speak with Paul Hastings attorneys, please call Patrick Dorton at (202) 508-9804.

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