Radiation and Oil & Gas NORM Litigation

Environmental Focus

Blank Rome has represented Fortune 500 companies and other clients in the chemical and energy industries in many hundreds of complex, high-stakes toxic tort matters.  Our lawyers have successfully represented numerous corporate and government clients in cases involving:

  • oil and gas production
  • nuclear power
  • NORM (naturally occurring radioactive materials)
  • uranium mining and milling
  • radium products
  • oil spills and leaks
  • atomic weapons testing
  • depleted uranium manufacturing

We defend and counsel clients regarding:

  • class action and mass actions
  • claims for environmental damage, groundwater contamination, and personal injury
  • claims for damage to natural resources
  • environmental cleanup cost recovery actions
  • responses to spills and leaks
  • compliance with state, federal and international laws, regulations, standards and agreements regarding radioactive materials
  • environmental insurance claims. 

Defending these claims requires a coordinated application of scientific facts and opinions, environmental regulatory experience and the classic litigation proficiency of our seasoned litigators, including a former assistant director for the Torts Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice and several former DOJ trial attorneys. The hallmark of our work in radiation, and oil and gas NORM, groundwater contamination, and other toxic materials cases is the use of reliable and accurate scientific evidence.  Our litigators have a thorough understanding of scientific concepts in the fields of hydrogeology, environmental fate and transport of radionuclides and chemicals, health physics, radiation bioeffects, epidemiology, petroleum geology, toxicology and geology – the disciplines upon which verdicts and decisions turn in our cases.  

Successfully resolving these cases involves managing extensive discovery and fact-finding, addressing complex scientific evidence and organizing claims and issues through prudent motions and administrative law practice.  Our lawyers are known for providing efficient, focused solutions to complex scientific problems that would otherwise consume extensive time and effort on the part of litigation counsel who are less familiar with the science of chemicals and radioactive materials.      

By aggressively investigating, evaluating and reconstructing environmental and medical information, we marshal evidence needed to establish that the alleged injuries cannot be attributed to our clients’ operations.  We critically examine and employ current scientific and medical information bearing on industry standards, dose reconstruction, and whether the claimed exposures could have caused plaintiffs’ claimed injuries.  Our knowledge and experience in particular scientific areas, and our skill in addressing expert evidence has allowed us to prevail on claims by excluding or limiting unscientific evidence through Daubert proceedings.  Working with the key experts who shape and lead national and international scientific advisory groups gives us a unique advantage in addressing the myriad scientific issues characteristic of toxic tort cases frequently brought against our energy industry clients.

Results from Select Engagements on Behalf of Defendants

  • Denial of class certification and summary judgment on the merits in a case involving high volume leaks of water containing tritium from a nuclear power plant.
  • Jury verdict for the defense in an oil and gas NORM (naturally-occurring radioactive materials) property damage trial.
  • Summary judgment on statute-of-limitations grounds for claims of water contamination from oil production activities.
  • Summary judgment on the merits in a case involving claims that exposure to cesium and other radioactive materials in a nuclear power plant’s waste caused two rare, juvenile cancers
  • Dismissal with prejudice of claims that exposure to uranium mill tailings resulted in eight childhood leukemia cases within the same community
  • Defense verdict in a trial involving claims by former Nevada Test Site workers that atomic weapons testing operations caused their cancers
  • Dismissal on the merits of a case alleging that depleted uranium contamination caused the plaintiff’s autoimmune disease
  • Dismissals of medical monitoring and emotional-distress claims arising from exposure to oil and gas NORM
  • Secured insurance funding for defense costs and settlement of claims brought by radium workers against their employer
  • State agency approval and successful implementation of a plan to remove and dispose of oil and gas NORM-impacted materials from oil and gas production operations that began in the early to mid-1900s.