Disney pollution case can go to trial

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Disney pollution case can go to trial

Fri Oct 23, 2009 @ 12:29PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


1812375123_57449bd739 A California District Court is allowing a case to proceed to trial that claims The Walt Disney Co. has dumped contaminated waste near its Burbank studios for decades.

Judge Dean Pregerson denied Disney's motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the Environmental World Watch and several individuals who reside near Disney's Burbank studio.

According to the claim, Disney pumps water from the ground for use in its air-cooling system, adding various chemical compounds to the cooling waters, then discharges the water through "well water disposal lines" and pipes. They contend that Disney has discharged hexavalent chronium, which the EPA banned for air-cooling systems in 1990, into the land, water, and air surrounding the studio lot. Plaintiff sued for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act.

Hexavalent chronium is the same contaminant of drinking water that fueled the famous case against Pacific Gas and Electric Company, later turned into the movie, "Erin Brockovich." 

Disney has denied the allegations and moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of standing and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.

"The Court concludes that Plaintiffs have alleged facts plausibly suggesting that Disney has disposed of a 'hazardous waste' within the meaning of RCRA," wrote Judge Pregerson in his decision.

Disney is fighting a lawsuit in Superior Court on this front too. In local coverage of the issue, a Disney spokesperson described the lawsuits as "grossly inaccurate and meritless."

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The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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