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MARTIN v. UNITED STATES

August 13, 1996

DOUGLAS MARTIN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Defendant.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOYNER

 Joyner, J.

 August 13, 1996

 Today we make findings of fact and conclusions of law in this Federal Tort Claims Act matter. 28 U.S.C. §§ 2671-80 (1994). A bifurcated portion of the case was tried to this Court over the course of a three day period in June, 1996. Plaintiffs are eleven individuals who live in Casey Village, a neighborhood that abuts the Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster, Pennsylvania ("NAWC"). Plaintiffs allege that contaminants originating from NAWC's waste disposal sites reached their groundwater and that they suffered compensable harm as a result. As a result, Plaintiffs have sued the United States of America for damages. The bifurcated June trial addressed the narrow issue of "whether or not contaminants from the waste disposal sites on the NAWC actually reached Plaintiffs' wells." Stip. at 1. The parties have submitted proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the matter is now ripe for decision. Accordingly, this Court makes the following factual findings and legal conclusions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 52.

 FINDINGS OF FACT

 The Parties

 1. The NAWC is a Navy research and development center that has been in operation since 1944 and is scheduled for closure in 1997. Stip. at 1.

 2. The NAWC is located on over 700 acres of land in Warminster Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Id. at 2.

 3. In the late 1940s, the NAWC instituted an industrial waste treatment system that ceased operation in 1994. All drains on the western side of NAWC are connected to this waste treatment system. Id.

 4. The base contains eight former waste disposal sites that were placed under environmental investigation in 1979. Id. at 3.

 5. Casey Village is a residential community that abuts the NAWC's northeast edge. Id.

 6. Both the NAWC and Casey Village's groundwater are contaminated with pollutants including tetrachioroethene ("PCE") and trichloroethane ("TCE"). Id. at 4, 8.

 7. The parties agree that four of the NAWC disposal sites (known as sites 1, 2, 3 & 8) are not responsible for the groundwater contamination found in Casey Village. The parties disagree as to whether sites 4, 5, 6 & 7 are responsible for the groundwater contamination at Casey Village. Id. at 3.

 8. Site 4 is located approximately 4,000 feet west of Casey Village and sites 5, 6 & 7 are located approximately 2,000 to 3,500 feet west of Casey Village. Id.

 9. All Plaintiffs either live in or own residences in Casey Village. Id. at 7.

 10. The runway, which runs from the base's southwest point to its northeast point is the NAWC's highest elevation. The runway passes between site 4 and sites 5-7. Id. at 2; Def. Ex. 6.

 11. Before 1978, no residence in Casey Village was hooked up to public sewer or water. Rather, each residence used its own well for water, and septic or cesspool systems for waste. Stip. at 7.

 12. In 1978, Casey Village was hooked up to the public sewer system. Hopely Dep., p. 58. Casey Village was not hooked up to the public water system until 1993, after the groundwater contamination was discovered. Tr., 6/18/96, p. 46.

 Environmental Contamination

 13. In 1979, the EPA placed the NAWC under investigation for PCE and ...


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