The plaintiff in this case is the United States, namely the Department of Justice on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The defender is the Reserve Mining Company, built in 1955 in Minnesota.
The Reserve Mining Company was engaged in extracting iron from taconite. At the same time, waste from production, which was considered not to pose a threat to the environment, was dumped into Lake Superior. However, five years after the start of production, fishermen and residents of Minnesota, in whose drinking water waste was found, began to complain about the negative impact of waste on health and ecology (United States v. Reserve Mining Company,1976).
Dr. Irving Selikoff was invited as an expert in the lower court (United States v. Reserve Mining Company,1976). He was an expert on the effects of asbestos on the environment and claimed that waste dumped into the river was harmful. However, secrecy was imposed on the information provided by him, and the lower court did not recognize the danger caused by the waste of the Reserve Mining Company. The appeal was brought by the federal government; this is due to the great alarm that the case caused in the press.
The central question that the court is being called on to decide is “Does the dumping of waste into Lake Superior pose a threat to human health and the ecology of the environment?” (United States v. Reserve Mining Company,1976).
The applicable law in this case is the law on responsibility for the discharge of waste from harmful production into a water body (Cheeseman, 2019).
The court resolved the issue in favor of the United States: The Department of Justice, on behalf of the EPA, won the case against the Reserve Mining Company.
The reasons the court cases in support of the court’s decision are the conclusions of the analysis of water and fish. The data obtained as a result of the research showed that the waste dumped by the Reserve Mining Company into Lake Superior poses a threat to human health and the environment (United States v. Reserve Mining Company,1976).
Significance of the Case
This case adds to my knowledge of the law on the issue of dumping industrial waste into water bodies. I have familiarized myself with the procedure for proving the existence of this type of violation of the law. In order to make an accusation, it is necessary to analyze the aquatic environment for the presence of environmentally hazardous substances (Craig, 2019). If they are identified, it is necessary to issue a fine and re-check the water in order to determine the success of the elimination of the violation.
I agree with the court’s decision because is fair with legal and ethical concepts. First of all, the EPA’s victory in this case is legally justified, since existing laws in the United States prohibit the dumping of waste that pollutes the environment into reservoirs (Cheeseman, 2019). Moreover, this decision of the case is fair from an ethical point of view, due to the fact that caring for the environment is a moral duty of every citizen.
A corporate entity might implement some recommendations to avoid legal liability. The Reserve Mining Company can appeal to the fact that the waste was discharged at a certain distance from residential buildings and public facilities. This norm is aimed not only at protecting the life and health of the population but also at preventing the appearance of dangerous concentrations of waste in places where people live and work (Craig, 2019). It is also possible to urgently install powerful treatment facilities, and a multi-level mechanical and biological water purification system (Cheeseman, 2019).
Cheeseman, H. R. (2019). The legal environment of business and online commerce. Boston, MA: Pearson Education.
Craig, R. K. (2019). Constitutional environmental law, or, the constitutional consequences of insisting that the environment is everybody’s business. Environmental Law Commons, 49(3), 703-736.
United States v. Reserve Mining Company, 543 F.2d 1210 U.S. (1976).