Evansville Greenway Site Wins National Environmental Award

The site is a newly opened section of greenway built upon a remediated scrap yard near downtown Evansville, Ind.

The National Association of Environmental Professionals (NAEP) has named a newly opened section of greenway built upon a remediated scrap yard near downtown Evansville, Ind., as the winner of its 2011 National Environmental Excellence Award in the category of environmental stewardship, according to a press release from Hunsucker Goodstein & Nelson.

Attorney Michael O. Nelson from the firm said of the award, “We are thrilled that the NAEP has chosen this project — now the centerpiece of Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage — as the nation’s best example of how a contaminated eyesore can be transformed into a safe, beautiful public park through cooperation, hard work, and perseverance.” Pigeon Creek Greenway is a planned 42-mile bike path which, when completed, will encircle the city of Evansville.

The project was a team effort with contributions and leadership from the city of Evansville, Evansville Greenway and Remediation Trust, Apex Companies LLC, and environmental attorneys who handled related litigation.

The law firm represented the Evansville Greenway & Remediation Trust and General Waste Products, Inc., the scrap yard owner, in two lawsuits that secured most of the funding for the remediation project.

Philip Hunsucker, of the firm's San Francisco Bay Area office, worked with Nelson on a successful insurance coverage claim brought by the property owner against its insurance carrier, which funded the creation of the Trust.

Michael Goodstein, of the firm’s Washington D.C, office, led the fight on behalf of the Trust when it filed a lawsuit in 2007 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act against Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company (SIGECO) and other parties seeking cleanup costs for the polluted scrap yard. The 4.5-acre site had served for more than 150 years as home to heavy industry and was contaminated with PCBs and lead.

The court found SIGECO liable, but did not apportion costs under the U.S. Supreme Court’s US v. Burlington Northern decision. A federal court later approved a settlement agreement ensuring the Trust would receive $4.3 million in cash and in-kind contributions to complete the property’s remediation.

The award will be formally presented to the remediation team at NAEP’s National Convention on April 27 in Denver, Colo.