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Clean-Up Work Did Not Give Rise to False Claims

Qui tam False Claims Act claims arising from a contract to clean up a uranium processing facility were summarily denied by the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio because the undisputed facts showed the contractor complied with requirements governing on-site disposal and did not violate air pollution standards. The relator alleged the contractor violated contract provisions on disposing radioactive material from demolished silos. According to the relator, the contractor knew material from the silos entered the soil during the demolition process but nonetheless put the soil into an on-site disposal facility without ensuring content material had been removed. The relator argued the contractor violated the FCA as a matter of law by sending claims for payment to the government that stated the claims adhered to all contract terms.

No Improper Disposal

However, no reasonable jury could find the contractor improperly placed content materials in the on-site facility. It was undisputed there was no limit on the amount of radium that could be disposed on site, the radioactivity of the contaminants actually placed on site was relatively "miniscule," and the government knew about and planned for the actions taken by the contractor. All parties understood the soil under and around the silos had pre-existing contamination that originally came from the silos. The testimony of the relator's expert attacking the contractor's modeling calculations was rejected because the government was "fully aware" of the modeling and design of the on-site disposal facility.

Compliant Emissions

Also, there was no breach of contract arising from a failure to report significant airborne emissions, as the release cited by the relator was well within the limits contemplated by the government's emissions plan. Finally, the relator's allegation the contractor made false statements and certifications with respect to compliance with air pollution standards was meritless. The relator provided no evidence actual emissions from the exhaust stack at a remediation building exceeded the prescribed level, and the contractor provided evidence the emissions did not exceed standards. Summary judgment was also granted in favor of the contractor on the relator's retaliation claim. (U.S. ex rel. Tetsuwari v. Fluor Fernald, Inc., DC SD Ohio, 54 CCF 79,328)




(The news featured above is a selection from the news covered in the Government Contracts Report Letter, which is published weekly and distributed to subscribers of the Government Contracts Reporter. )


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