Environmental

Overview

Our Environmental practice spans a range of environmental issues and focuses on assisting clients with understanding, identifying and resolving potential and actual environmental issues. We have experience in the entire breadth of environmental issues, including those involving solid and hazardous waste, CERCLA, Georgia Hazardous Site Response Act, RCRA, underground storage tanks, air, water, wetlands, Brownfields and sustainability.

We are regularly involved in the negotiation of compliance and permit issues with local, state and federal regulatory agencies and in counseling clients on a variety of environmental matters, with particular emphasis on corrective action projects. While we seek to resolve environmental disputes without litigation, we have considerable experience in representing potentially responsible parties at CERCLA and HSRA sites and in RCRA, EPCRA, Clean Water and Clean Air Act Risk Management Plans enforcement and permitting actions, emergency release notifications, cost recovery and contribution actions, and in defending common law claims involving nuisance and trespass. We also provide counseling concerning the major federal and state regulatory programs, including rulemaking and legislative matters. In addition, we advise clients regarding SEC reporting and disclosure issues involving environmental liabilities.

We assist clients in the environmental aspects of real estate and corporate transactions, including the sale, purchase, lease or financing of real estate and corporate mergers and acquisitions. We consult on site assessments, conduct environmental due diligence, evaluate facility compliance, procure environmental insurance and assist in negotiating contracts, remediation agreements and indemnities. Our practice has significant experience in several states assessing remediation requirements and options, including Brownfield and other Voluntary Cleanup Programs, as well as removal from federal and state Superfund lists following remediation. In connection with these projects, we assist with contracting with remediation contractors, negotiate with state and federal regulators on cleanup requirements, negotiate PRP agreements, and draft environmental covenants. We are often asked to assist with negotiating agreements to allocate remediation responsibilities and risks between our clients and other private parties.

We also have experience evaluating and addressing the risks posed by mold, asbestos and lead paint issues. We assist in the evaluation and resolution of risks related to indoor air issues including those arising from vapor intrusion.

Our principal environmental clients are in the real estate, manufacturing, consumer products, food distribution, refrigeration, health care and technology industries. Our practice has primarily focused on matters in the eight southeastern states comprising EPA Region 4; however we have strong experience in numerous states outside the region as well.

Some of our lawyers have served in key regulatory positions and all have significant experience in dealing with federal and state regulators. With several years of focus on environmental law, our environmental lawyers bring to the table the hands-on experience and understanding of the public/private sector relationship that is so intrinsic to environmental issues.

We frequently write and lecture on environmental topics before legal or industry groups. We wrote the Environmental Law volume of the Georgia Jurisprudence 20-volume series published by West Publishing Company. This work was the foundation for a 1,000 page treatise entitled the Georgia Environmental Law Handbook, also published by West Publishing. We are also the authors of the Georgia chapter of the two-volume award-winning treatise, Brownfields Law and Practice, published by Matthew Bender & Company, Inc. AGG is a founding member of the Georgia Brownfield Association, and assisted in drafting much needed and recently adopted legislation revising Georgia brownfield law.

Our Environmental practice is only one part of the range of legal services offered by AGG. Indeed, the combination of legal experience within the firm gives us the ability to structure collaborative teams to assist clients on diverse litigation, corporate, real estate and regulatory transactions that are often associated with environmental issues.

Experience

  • Represented a large refrigeration warehouse company in EPA criminal investigation regarding ammonia releases at refrigeration facility. Investigation closed with no charges filed or any adverse action taken by the government against the company.

  • Represented Integral Development and Macauley + Schmit in the acquisition of the General Motors Doraville plant, a 165 acre Brownfield redevelopment, including extensive environmental due diligence, regulatory negotiations with multiple branches of Georgia EPD, and the purchase of complex environmental insurance policies.

  • Analyzed portfolio of multiple refrigerated warehouses with legacy environmental issues, negotiated with underwriters regarding remediation requirements and reserves, and entered selected properties in various state voluntary cleanup programs.

  • Responsible for legal aspects of environmental due diligence for national food distribution company.

  • Submitted, on behalf of various clients, seven applications to Georgia’s Voluntary Remediation Program, resulting in approval of risk-based cleanup plans that will, collectively, save millions in assessment, remediation and monitoring costs.

  • Represented Jamestown Properties in negotiating environmental terms in its purchase agreement and orchestrated the environmental due diligence and Brownfield Corrective Action Plan for the largest adaptive reuse project currently underway in Georgia.

  • Negotiated with USEPA on behalf of one of three responsible parties for cleanup of a federal Superfund site, including cost allocation (including with a federal PRP), bidding of the $10-plus million cleanup, and oversight of the project.

  • Counseled First Capital in connection with $7.5 million multi-facility loan to Gardner Glass Products, Inc., and its affiliates, with respect to matters related to the ownership of the company by an employee stock ownership plan (an ESOP). Gardner Glass is a glass and mirror manufacturing company based in North Carolina.

  • Achieved a complex merger of two long-standing non-profits that involved multimillion-dollar combined operations. The team resolved a myriad of legal issues, including corporate, real estate, environmental, and tax filing matters.

  • Assisted Austrian and German based Benteler Group with site selection and environmental assessment and permit issues associated with the development of a $900 million hot rolling tube mill and steel mill on 325 acres in Louisiana.

  • Drafted and negotiated Design Contracts, Construction Agreements and a Project Service Agreement for an office renovation project for a large hotel holding company.  Significant review and revisions of lower tier contracts were required with multiple players in order to coordinate all work within a tight schedule.  Our work also included negotiations with the Landlord and amending the lease to accommodate renovation goals.

  • Represented Griffin-American Healthcare REIT, II, Inc., a non-traded REIT, in connection with a variety of environmental issues arising out of the acquisition, leasing and financing of various healthcare facilities, including the acquisition of a Midwest portfolio of long-term acute care hospitals, a Northeast portfolio of skilled nursing facilities, and a West Coast hospital portfolio. Each transaction utilized a complex structure involving a master lease, multiple subleases, guaranties, letters of credit and intercreditor agreements. Several of the transactions also involved post-closing remediation/corrective action agreements.

  • Represented The Kroger Co. in connection with the $22 million acquisition of approximately 250 acres of Fort Gillem, Forest Park, Georgia, a former army base recently closed under the Base Closure and Realignment Act (BRAC). The Army first sold 750+ acres to the City of Forest Park Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), who then immediately conveyed a portion to the client. As part of the transaction, Kroger agreed to a future sale/leaseback arrangement with the City in exchange for a bond issuance. Past uses and known contamination at the site required extensive historical due diligence and site assessment; negotiations with Georgia EPD and the United States EPA regarding the state Hazardous Site Inventory, the National Priorities List (Superfund), No Further Remedial Action (NFRAP) status and the Brownfields program; and negotiations with the Department of the Army, the City of Forest Park and the URA regarding acquisition documents, loan documents, reciprocal easements, restrictions and covenants, a development agreement, confidentiality agreements, indemnities, bond documents and a lease. This transaction was the first disposition of property out of a closed military base in the Metropolitan Atlanta area.

  • Represented large industrial manufacturing company in sale of holding company owned by a family and an ESOP; spin-off of all assets except one operating subsidiary.  Required sophisticated tax, environmental and retirement plan advice and documentation.

Recognition

AGG is a founding member of the Georgia Brownfield Association and John Spinrad is currently serving as president of the organization.

 

Our practice and attorneys are regularly recognized by leading publications such as Chambers USA for excellence in environmental law.

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