Richard M. Fil

Partner

  • Overview

    Biography

    Rich Fil practices in our Providence and Hartford offices, where his environmental practice is focused on the voluntary investigation, remediation, and redevelopment of affected property and the negotiation of transactional documents. He also counsels clients on federal and state enforcement actions and litigation involving impacted sites. Mr. Fil represents a number of energy clients in negotiating power purchase agreements and preparing filings for the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission, and other state public utilities commissions. He has spoken and written on a number of environmental issues to diverse audiences.

    Mr. Fil has served as environmental counsel on a wide variety of transactions, negotiating environmental provisions of agreements, managing due diligence, and providing advice on remediation alternatives and strategies. His experience includes overseeing contaminated site investigations and cleanups under various state environmental programs. Mr. Fil has negotiated a number of specialized environmental insurance policies for known and unknown conditions, cost overruns, and risk transfer, and has successfully assisted clients in asserting claims. He has also managed fire and explosion investigations and has been involved in nuclear decommissioning and radioactive decontamination and compliance projects. Mr. Fil's litigation experience includes defending government enforcement actions, initiating and defending private party actions, and preparing and deposing expert witnesses.
    In conjunction with his environmental and energy practice, Mr. Fil has considerable experience in federal regulatory interpretation (including the EPA, NRC, and DOT), overseeing compliance audits and making voluntary disclosures, managing control groups, and performing crisis management training and oversight.

    Mr. Fil has substantial knowledge of state regulatory standards and practices, having worked seven years at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). While at DEP, he served as legislative liaison for the Water Management Bureau, senior environmental analyst in the groundwater program, and assistant to the state Board of Examiners of Environmental Professionals. He is the current Chair of the Rhode Island Bar Association's Environmental & Energy Law Committee, and a member of the Boards of Directors of the Rhode Island Society of Environmental Professionals and The Westerly Land Trust.
     

  • Experience
    • Experience

      Experience

      • Assisted our client in evaluating soil and groundwater impacts related to the historic use of pesticides, and develop strategic options for addressing those conditions in a cost-effective manner to allow the development of the site as a large distribution facility.

      • In the sale of a subsidiary company, our client retained responsibility for and principal management of certain environmental liabilities associated with operations and disposal practices of a number of properties of the former subsidiary. Robinson+Cole has provided oversight in the investigation phase of a remedial project moving forward under the dual jurisdiction of a Consent Order with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the Connecticut Transfer Act. The investigation phase contained an analysis of over 50 potential areas of concern and culminated in a remedial design which, when implemented, is expected to save the client over $5 million over previous remedial design plans. Other issues associated with this matter include the oversight of the remedial actions associated with minor contamination at other facilities of the former subsidiary and the liability for certain historic disposal sites.

      • Counseled client on environmental issues related to its acquisition of a large fuel oil distributor involving over 40 sites in four states.
      • Counseled client on groundwater issues for a commercial nuclear power plant undergoing decommissioning.
      • Counseled municipality on agreements and due diligence for a public-private mixed-use development.
      • Counseled client on environmental aspects of transactions involving shopping centers in several states.
      • Representation of a manufacturer of technology products and provider of support services for the aerospace and building industries worldwide in investigating and reporting the loss of radioactive sources.
      • Representation of a manufacturer of technology products and provider of support services for the aerospace and building industries worldwide in evaluating local, state, and federal requirements related to the handling and disposal of products containing Kr-85.
      • Representation of a manufacturer of technology products and provider of support services for the aerospace and building industries worldwide in evaluating licensing, handling, and disposal requirements related to products containing tritium.
      • Representation of an elevator manufacturer in case involving a shipment of elevator buttons through Mexico that triggered radiation detectors at the border and were quarantined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The buttons were manufactured in France, and the steel used was determined to be contaminated with Co-60. Robinson & Cole assisted its client in engaging a health physicist, evaluating thousands of buttons in storage in Arizona and Connecticut for potential radioactivity, determining relevant lots affected, tracking down and replacing buttons from relevant lots that had already been shipped throughout the country and internationally to distribution centers and customers, and ensuring proper disposal of the affected buttons at a nuclear waste facility. We also evaluated potential state and federal reporting obligations and prepared documentation for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and state environmental agencies.
      • Defense

      • Representation of a manufacturer of technology products and provider of support services for the aerospace and building industries worldwide at a National Priorities List site where state and federal agencies sought to compel remediation over a 10-square-mile area, including areas never owned or operated by our client. Negotiated a consent decree limiting the work to performing an investigation only and only for our client’s property. Significantly limited additional groundwater work through the state regulatory program.
      • Other Experiences

      • Representation of an electric power company in a matter where a state environmental agency threatened to prohibit use of the client's ash of their generation facility for daily landfill cover. Received a favorable outcome. A contrary outcome would have cost millions of dollars and likely threatened the viability of the facility.
      • Representation of a gas utility in evaluating site conditions and cleanup obligations related to former manufactured gas plant facilities.
      • Represented a manufacturing company in an environmental enforcement action involving claims of illegal storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
      • Counsel to client in evaluating the permitting and environmental requirements for and status of a borrower's co-generation facility being constructed in Staten Island, New York.

      • Represented a lender, as administrative and collateral agent and a lender in a $9,500,000 senior secured construction-to permanent term loan facility and also as the sole lender in a contemporaneous $6,150,000 senior subordinated construction-to-permanent term loan facility, provided to a borrower to fund the construction costs associated with the design, procurement, and installation of a 10.3MW gas-fired combined co-generation and ice production facility in Staten Island, New York, secured by all personal and real property assets of the borrower and its affiliates, including their respective rights under all contracts with procurement contractors, interconnection agreements and maintenance agreements, and involving associated intercreditor, interparty and other third party issues related thereto. Assisted the client in evaluating the permitting and environmental requirements for and status of the borrower's co-generation facility as well as interacting with state agencies involved in the permitting process and with tax abatements.
      • Our client was required to submit certain environmental test results to an executive state agency. Management delegated this responsibility to an employee. Without the knowledge of management, the employee falsified the test results, prompting the state to file criminal charges against both the employee and the corporation. The employee admitted his wrongdoing and was sentenced to a special form of rehabilitative probation.  Despite the absence of any evidence that management knew about or authorized the illegal conduct, the state pursued the charges against the corporation, arguing that it could be found criminally responsible based on the employee's conduct. The judge agreed with the state and instructed the jury that it could find the corporation guilty if it found that the employee knew that his actions were illegal.

        Although the employee had previously acknowledged his wrongdoing, Robinson+Cole's defense undermined the state's theory that the employee knowingly falsified the reports. Accepting the defense's theory, the jury found the corporation not guilty on all six counts of false reporting. The not guilty verdict saved the corporation significant fines and the inevitable loss of state and federal contracts.

      • Representation of a client in the investigation and subsequent remediation of a historic clock manufacturing building in Waterbury, Connecticut. Based on the nature of the material in issue (e.g. radium) the remediation was overseen by and involved both the State Environmental Agency and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The initial site inspections were conducted by NRC experts.

      • Assisted client in evaluating the applicable provisions of the Connecticut Remediation Standard Regulations (RSRs) to a portfolio of 87 petroleum sites, and filing a petition for declaratory ruling with respect to objections to agency interpretations of the RSRs and the regulations governing the qualifications and conduct of licensed environmental professionals.

      • Counseled client regarding inspections by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for the presence of Ra-226 from historic operations. Worked with a private certified health physicist to provide technical and strategic options in relation to potential remediation requirements.
         

      • Reviewed and negotiated the terms of a power purchase agreement and related documents for a solar energy project under the Connecticut Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program.

      • Negotiated the terms of a power purchase agreement for the installation and operation of a fuel cell facility at a large pharmaceutical research and development campus.
         

      • Advised a lender on the implications of subordinating its mortgage to a lien for a solar energy project under the Rhode Island Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program.
         

      • Counseled client in achieving a settlement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) related to conditions at a site on the National Priorities List (NPL).

      • Assisted a client in investigating the collection and disposal of Sr-90 sources inadvertently included in the shipments of two used electron accelerators.
         

      • Counseled client on the sale of a former industrial property under the Connecticut Property Transfer Act. The transaction involved the use of specialized environmental insurance and risk transfer to the buyer.

      • Counseled electronics recycling client against alleged federal allegations of improper handling of hazardous waste.  Successfully avoided any fines or further enforcement actions.

      • Assisted client in responding to inspection by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to evelaute the potential presence of Ra-226 from historic manufacturing operations.

      • Assisted client in evaluating environmental conditions at a Superfund site proposed to be used for a solar farm.

      • Counseled client on various aspects of relocating industrial operations to a new location, including negotiating environmental provisions of leases for both locations, negotiating an allocation of responsibilities with both landlords, and resolving outstanding requirements related to wastewater discharges and hazardous waste handling.

      • Counseled client regarding soil and groundwater conditions at a former manufacturing site, including the evaluation of a technical impracticability variance and other interim remediation options.

      • Negotiated the terms of power purchase agreements for three rooftop solar installations.

      • Counseled client regarding a notice of violation from the Rhode Island Department of Health for alleged noncompliance with requirements for a non-transient, non-community water supply system.

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    • Professional Associations

      Professional Associations

      Rhode Island Bar Association (2008 - present)
      Environmental and Energy Law Committee (2009 - present)
      Chair of Environmental and Energy Law Committee (2015 - present)

      American Bar Association (1994 - present)

      Rhode Island Society of Environmental Professionals
      Board of Directors
    • Community Involvement

      Community Involvement

      Westerly Land Trust
      Board Member and Urban Committee Member
  • NEWS + PRESS
    • Publications

      Publications

      "Of Counsel: Old Refrigerant Regulations, New Interpretations," published in Scrap, co-authored with Megan E. Baroni and Earl W. Phillips Jr. (July/August 2013)

      "OSHA Takes Aim at Safety Incentive Programs," published in Scrap, co-authored with Nicole A. Bernabo (May/June 2012)

      "Of Counsel," published in Scrap, co-authored with Earl W. Phillips Jr. (January/February 2012)

      "Environmental Risk Management in Real Estate Lending: A Time to Reassess How to Avoid or Better Manage Toxic Assets," published in The Abstract, co-authored with Norman H. Roos and Pamela K. Elkow, American College of Mortgage Attorneys (Spring 2009)

      "Addressing Environmental Issues in Turnarounds and Bankruptcies," co-authored with Pamela Elkow, at meeting of the Connecticut Chapter of the Turnaround Management Association (1/7/2008)

      "Bankruptcy Updates," published in ABA's Environmental Transactions and Brownfields Newsletter

    • Presentations

      Presentations

      "Overview of Environmental Issues in Real Estate Transactions," (3/3/2015)
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      "Meeting the Challenges in Siting, Moving or Expanding Operations," at ISRI Convention and Exposition, Moderator (4/17/2012)

      "Commercial Real Estate Transactions: The New Economic Climate," at the 2011 Rhode Island Bar Association Annual Meeting; Carla M. Moynihan also spoke in the panel discussion. (6/16/2011)

      "Performing Environmental Health and Safety Audits: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?" at Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries' Safety & Environmental Council Conference, co-presented with Pamela K. Elkow (5/3/2011)

      "Key Issues and Strategies for Environmental Due Diligence and Contractual Provisions," at Robinson & Cole webinar entitled The Times—They Are a-Changin': Selected Real Estate Topics Reflecting Current Economic and Green Climate Conditions, Providence, Rhode Island (10/26/2010)

      "Connecticut's Significant Environmental Hazard Statute and Its Reporting Requirements," at Connecticut Environmental Forum, Wethersfield, Connecticut, co-presented with Megan E. Baroni (1/3/2007)

      "Environmental Considerations for Real Estate and Commercial Transactions," at Lorman conferences in Hartford and Stamford, Connecticut (6/28/2005 and 9/27/2005)

      "Life After Decommissioning - A Legal Overview," at American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting, Washington, D.C. (11/15/2004)

      "State Cleanup Standards for Decommissioning," at Argonne National Laboratory Decommissioning Training Course, Albuquerque, NM (7/1/2004)

      "Brownfields Redevelopment — What, Why and How?" at Argonne National Laboratory Decommissioning Training Course, Albuquerque, NM (7/1/2004)

      "Security and Crisis Management - Preparation and Response," at Connecticut Business & Industry Association Annual Meeting, Southington, CT (4/28/2004)

      "Investigation and Remediation of Non-Radiological Environmental Contamination," at Argonne National Laboratory Decommissioning Training Course, Las Vegas, NV (3/1/2004)

      "Considerations for Transactions with Environmental Issues," at Orange, CT, co-presented with Pamela K. Elkow (10/22/2003)

      "Environmental Issues and Strategies for Real Estate Transactions," at New York County Bar Association, co-presented with Earl W. Phillips, Jr., Stuart R. Deans, Pamela K. Elkow (10/14/2003)

      "Case Law Updates on Lender and Fiduciary Liability," at Environmental Bankers Association, St. Paul, MN (6/1/2002)

      "Land Use Controls," at a Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) Annual Meeting (6/2001)
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      "Transactional Aspects of Environmental Law," at the University of Connecticut School of Law (4/2001)
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      "The Sulfur Crisis of 2000," at the New England Fuel Institute (NEFI) Annual Meeting (1/2001)
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      "Institutional Controls," at an Environmental Bankers Association event (1/2001)
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      "Environmental Law for Trust and Estates Practitioners," at a CBA seminar (12/1999)
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    • News

      R+C in the News

      • July 21, 2016

        Richard Fil Reappointed Chair of RIBA's Environmental and Energy Law Committee

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      • February 10, 2016

        Richard Fil Reelected to RISEP Board of Directors

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      • January 13, 2016

        Richard Fil Reelected to Westerly Land Trust Board

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      • July 9, 2015

        Richard Fil Selected to Chair RIBA's Environmental and Energy Law Committee

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      • August 9, 2013

        Robinson & Cole Lawyers Featured in Scrap Magazine

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      • June 26, 2012

        Attorneys Write About OSHA’s New Guidance for Safety Incentive Programs

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      • May 2, 2012

        Environmental Attorneys Discuss Siting, Moving and Expanding Operations at Scrap Metal Convention

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      • February 16, 2012

        Environmental Attorneys Offer Key Points for a Successful Property Transfer in Scrap Magazine

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      • February 3, 2012

        Environmental Partner Elected to Rhode Island Society of Environmental Professionals Board

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      • September 21, 2011

        Presentation on Environmental Health and Safety Audits Noted in Scrap Magazine

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      • May 23, 2011

        Environmental Attorneys Present on Environmental Health and Safety Audits

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      • December 17, 2010

        Attorneys Reelected to Connecticut Chapter Board

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      • April 30, 2010

        Robinson & Cole LandLaw Lawyer Reappointed to Executive Committee of the American Nuclear Society

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      • March 2, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Reelected to Board of Directors of Westerly Land Trust

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      • February 2, 2010

        Robinson & Cole Attorneys Elected to Board of Directors of Turnaround Management Association’s Connecticut Chapter

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      • October 29, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Attorney Authors Article on Debtors with Environmental Liabilities

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      • February 6, 2009

        Robinson & Cole Partner Elected to Board of Directors of the CTTMA

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      R+C News Releases

      • February 1, 2016

        Robinson+Cole Forms Sustainability Cross-Practice Team

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