When not working on permitting and compliance, enforcement actions, or liability disputes involving water, air, hazardous waste or solid waste, or as a hearing officer for a local municipality considering site assignments, Attorney Christopher B. Myhrum can be found studying the latest CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act) issues or working on an upcoming presentation to lawyers, law students or environmental consultants.
Although one of the foremost attorneys in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the field of environmental law, Chris approaches each effort he takes on with a fresh perspective. He works with environmental consultants, federal, state and municipal officials and other lawyers seeking opportunities for learning and collaboration rather than acrimony and contention.
For Chris, talking about environmental law topics, like M.G.L. c. 21E, Brownfield issues or risk assessment and liability allocation, is as interesting as the challenge of representing clients embroiled in such issues. He regularly responds to invitations to write and to participate in environmental education programs for lawyers, environmental consultants, law students, government officials and the general public. That fundamental professional requirement of being able to present difficult subjects directly and understandably is only possible because of Chris’ dedication to and deep appreciation of the practice of environmental law.
He is known for his hard work, thoroughness and diligence, as well as a fondness for fishing and the outdoors.
Chris has actively participated in reforms to the Massachusetts Contingency Plan (MCP), including serving on the Ad Hoc Committee on Potentially Productive Aquifer Reform. He was appointed by the Governor to the Massachusetts Title 5 Review Commission, and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) Commissioner included him on the task force to reform MassDEP administrative appeal procedures. He has been a member of the Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress, and currently is a Director of WestMass Area Development, the quasi-public corporation managing redevelopment of Ludlow Mills, the largest Brownfields project in New England.
Chris represents clients addressing or appealing United States Environmental Protection Agency, MassDEP and other agency investigation and enforcement proceedings, as well as clients in multi-party disputes over liability and allocation of response action costs. He also assists clients pursuing insurance coverage for response costs and other loss and damage arising out of contamination resulting from releases of oil and hazardous materials.
For over three decades Chris has worked on federal Superfund and state MCP cases, collaborating frequently, and often quite intensively, with Licensed Site Professionals (LSPs) and other engineering and environmental consultants. Cases range from heartbreaking homeowner fuel oil releases to major multi-party liability controversies, meeting along the way “four corner-four gas stations” intersection fiascos, residual TCE plumes emanating from under industrial structures, and “whose copper killed the fish” mysteries. He is familiar with LSPs’ fundamental obligation to hold the public interest paramount and has represented LSPs in investigations by and disciplinary matters before the Board of Registration of Hazardous Waste Site Cleanup Professionals.
Chris offers ongoing guidance on permitting and enforcement related matters under federal and state statutes and regulations governing air contaminant emissions, wastewater and stormwater discharges, and management of toxic chemicals and hazardous wastes. He also counsels clients concerning public and private water supplies and compliance with wetlands, riverfront and waterways regulations.
Clients include manufacturers, municipalities, farmers, public and private developers of real estate projects, public and private schools, colleges and health care institutions. Lawyers representing clients in real estate conveyancing and mergers and acquisitions retain Chris to evaluate compliance status and transactional environmental risks and liability exposures. To meet financing conditions of lenders, borrowers engage Chris to provide necessary opinions regarding current and projected compliance with applicable environmental requirements.
“Practicing environmental law has provided me a great opportunity to help private and public organizations and individual people in confronting often difficult and demanding problems.”