or handle it during its life, and (3) those who provide a final resting place for such waste.
Additionally, among those specifically included in the definition of "any persons" are "generators." See 42 U.S.C. § 6972(a)(1)(B) (1983 & Supp. 1991). As a result, the Court is further persuaded that RCRA applies to individuals who do no more than create solid waste. The Court simply will not accept defendants' interpretation of the statute which would allow individuals to create solid waste, and avoid the requirements of RCRA by never making any attempt to clean up the mess. Clearly such a result is not what was intended by a statute that desires to reduce "the amounts of solid waste that are generated."
The court holds that there is not an exception for petroleum in section 6972(a)(1)(B). Additionally, without addressing the merits of the defendants' contention that solid waste was never "disposed" of, the Court holds that the mere creation of solid waste, and the subsequent abandonment of it in the ground, will support a cause of action under section 6972(a)(1)(B).
Nachant's Motions and Defendants' Motions also raise questions of whether the actions of each of the defendants satisfy the statutory requirement that the person be one who "contributed." To the extent that these motions ask the Court to make a factual determination that each or any of the defendants contributed to the disposal, the Court finds that these motions are premature. Consistent with representations made to the parties by Magistrate Judge Roger C. McKee, and consistent with the arguments made by defendants in response to plaintiffs' motion, the Court will only address legal issues of dispute. The parties will have the opportunity to present factual issues to be resolved at a later motion date.
At this time, the Court will only address the question of whether, as a matter of law, each of the defendants could be a contributor under RCRA and on the facts alleged by plaintiffs. Again, the court is given little guidance as the statute does not define the term "contributor." Where terms are not defined in the statute, courts are compelled to look to the "ordinary meaning" of the language in the statute. Securities Industries Ass'n. v. Board of Govenors, 468 U.S. 137, 149 (1984). Random House defines "contribute to" as "to be an important factor in; help to cause." The Random House Dictionary of English Language, 2d ed. unabridged (1987). Similar to the development of the principle of "proximate cause" in the law of torts, the Court is cognizant that there must be some limitations on the definition of contributor with respect to section 6972(a)(1)(B). For example, individuals who provided the materials for the underground storage tank to the installer are one step removed, as are the individuals who sold the land to the individuals who had the underground storage tanks installed. Under a broad reading of contribution, these individuals could be said to have "helped to cause" the leakage, just as the banks that made the loans did. This case, however, does not present such extreme examples. Here, the defendants are individuals who owned the land during which time the gasoline allegedly leaked, individuals who operated the pumps during which time the gasoline allegedly leaked, and individuals responsible for the installation of the piping and pumps for the gasoline tanks that allegedly leaked. None of these individuals are so far removed that it can be said that, as a matter of law, they did not contribute to the leakage. As a result, the court holds that each of the defendants may be a contributor under the statute. As a result, the motion is denied.
It is possible, however, that one or more of the defendants will be able to show that they did not contribute, or in the alternative that the plaintiff contributed as well. Any motions based upon such factual conclusions should be presented to the Court for a hearing on January 21, 1992 at 10:30 a.m. For today, the Court holds that as a legal matter each of the defendants can be a contributor under section 6972(a)(1)(B).
Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment
Just as the Court found that defendants' factual claims that they were not contributors were premature, the Court finds, without addressing the merits, that Plaintiffs' Motion is premature as well. Defendants are still conducting discovery on the site as to the cause or causes or the contamination. Although the Court is cognizant of plaintiff's desire to move this lawsuit along, consistent with representations made to the parties by Magistrate Judge McKee, this motion must be continued until the testing at the site is completed.
Defendants represented that the testing of the site was to be conducted during the week of October 21, 1991. As a result, Plaintiffs' Motion is continued until January 21, 1992 at 10:30 a.m. Based on new developments during the intervening time, parties may, if they choose, submit new papers to replace those already before the Court in a manner consistent with the Local Rules.
The Court hereby denies the motions for summary judgment made by the defendants. Likewise, the Court denies defendant NACHANT's continued motion for partial summary judgment.
Additionally, the Court holds that this motion hearing was not intended to resolve factual disputes, and as a result it continues the plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment or summary adjudication of issues until January 21, 1992 at 10:30 a.m. Likewise, defendants shall file any motions that require the resolution of factual issues in accordance with the filing requirements for a January 21, 1992 motion date as well. In the event that any party chooses not to bring motions on January 21, 1992, or in the event that it is still premature to proceed with motions on factual issues on January 21, 1992, counsel shall notify the Court as soon as possible.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
December 3, 1991
GORDON THOMPSON, JR.
United States District Judge