The Company is a defendant in various lawsuits and a party to various other legal proceedings, in the ordinary course of business, some of which are covered in whole or in part by insurance. When a loss arising from these matters is probable and can reasonably be estimated, we record the amount of the estimated loss, or the minimum estimated liability when the loss is estimated using a range, and no point within the range is more probable of occurrence than another. As additional information becomes available, any potential liability related to these matters will be assessed and the estimates will be revised, if necessary.
Based on current available information, management believes that the ultimate outcome of these matters, including those described below, will not have a material adverse effect on our financial position, cash flows or overall trends in our results of operations. However, these matters are subject to inherent uncertainties, and unfavorable rulings could occur. If an unfavorable ruling were to occur, there exists the possibility of a material adverse impact on the financial position and results of operations of the period in which the ruling occurs, or in future periods.
New Idria Mercury Mine
In September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) informed a subsidiary of the Company, Buckhorn, Inc. (“Buckhorn”) via a notice letter and related documents (the “Notice Letter”) that it considers Buckhorn to be a potentially responsible party (“PRP”) in connection with the New Idria Mercury Mine site (“New Idria Mine”). New Idria Mining & Chemical Company (“NIMCC”), which owned and/or operated the New Idria Mine through 1976, was merged into Buckhorn Metal Products Inc. in 1981, which was subsequently acquired by Myers Industries in 1987. As a result of the EPA Notice Letter, Buckhorn and the Company engaged in negotiations with the EPA with respect to a draft Administrative Order of Consent (“AOC”) proposed by the EPA for the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (“RI/FS”) to determine the extent of remediation necessary and the screening of alternatives.
During the fourth quarter of 2018, the Company and the EPA finalized the AOC and related Statement of Work (“SOW”) with regards to the New Idria Mine. The AOC is effective as of November 27, 2018, the date that it was executed by the EPA. The AOC and accompanying SOW document the terms, conditions and procedures for the Company’s performance of the RI/FS. In addition, the AOC requires the Company to provide $2 million of financial assurance to the EPA to secure its performance during the estimated three year life of the RI/FS. In January 2019, the Company provided this assurance as a letter of credit. The AOC also includes provisions for payment by the Company of the EPA’s costs of oversight of the RI/FS, including a prepayment in the amount of $0.2 million, which was paid in January 2019.
Since October 2011, when New Idria was added to the Superfund National Priorities List by the EPA, the Company has recognized $5.9 million of costs, of which approximately $2.9 million has been paid to date. These costs are comprised primarily of negotiation of the AOC, identification of possible insurance resources and other PRPs, estimates to perform the RI/FS, EPA oversight fees, past cost claims made by the EPA, periodic monitoring, and responses to unilateral administrative orders issued by the EPA. No expenses were recorded related to the New Idria Mine in the quarters ended March 31, 2019 or 2018. As of March 31, 2019, the Company has a total reserve of $3.0 million related to the New Idria Mine, of which $0.5 million is classified in Other Current Liabilities and $2.5 million in Other Liabilities on the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Position (Unaudited).
It is possible that adjustments to the aforementioned reserves will be necessary as new information is obtained, including after preparation and EPA approval of the work plan for the RI/FS, which is anticipated to occur in the second quarter of 2019. Estimates of the Company’s liability are based on current facts, laws, regulations and technology. Estimates of the Company’s environmental liabilities are further subject to uncertainties regarding the nature and extent of site contamination, the range of remediation alternatives available, evolving remediation standards, imprecise engineering evaluation and cost estimates, the extent of remedial actions that may be required, the extent of oversight by the EPA, the number and financial condition of other PRPs that may be named as well as the extent of their responsibility for the remediation, and the availability of insurance coverage for these expenses.
At this time, we have not accrued for remediation costs in connection with this site as we are unable to estimate the liability, given the circumstances referred to above, including the fact that the final remediation strategy has not yet been determined.
New Almaden Mine
A number of parties, including the Company and its subsidiary, Buckhorn (as successor to NIMCC), were alleged by trustee agencies of the United States and the State of California to be responsible for natural resource damages due to environmental contamination of areas comprising the historical New Almaden mercury mines located in the Guadalupe River Watershed region in Santa Clara County, California (“County”). In 2005, Buckhorn and the Company, without admitting liability or chain of ownership of NIMCC, resolved the trustees’ claim against them through a consent decree that required them to contribute financially to the implementation by the County of an environmentally beneficial project within the impacted area. Buckhorn and the Company negotiated an agreement with the County, whereby Buckhorn and the Company agreed to reimburse one-half of the County’s costs of implementing the project, originally estimated to be approximately $1.6 million. As a result, in 2005, the Company recognized expense of $0.8 million representing its share of the initial estimated project costs, of which approximately $0.5 million has been paid to date. In April 2016, the Company was notified by the County that the original cost estimate may no longer be appropriate due to expanded scope and increased costs of construction and provided a revised estimate of between $3.3 million and $4.4 million. The Company completed a detailed review of the support provided by the County for the revised estimate, and as a result, recognized additional expense of $1.2 million in 2016. No costs were incurred related to New Almaden in the quarters ended March 31, 2019 or 2018. As of March 31, 2019, the Company has a total reserve of $1.5 million related to the New Almaden Mine, of which $0.3 million is classified in Other Current Liabilities and $1.2 million in Other Liabilities on the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Position (Unaudited).
The project has not yet been implemented though significant work on design and planning has been performed. The Company is currently awaiting notice from Santa Clara County on the expected timing of fieldwork to commence. As work on the project occurs, it is possible that adjustments to the aforementioned reserves will be necessary to reflect new information. In addition, the Company may have claims against and defenses to claims by the County under the 2005 agreement that could reduce or offset its obligation for reimbursement of some of these potential additional costs. With the assistance of environmental consultants, the Company will closely monitor this matter and will continue to assess its reserves as additional information becomes available.
Lawn and Garden Indemnification Claim
In connection with the sale of the Lawn and Garden business, as described in Note 4, the Company received Notices of Indemnification Claims in April 2015 and July 2016 (collectively, the “Claims”), alleging breaches of certain representations and warranties under the agreement resulting in alleged losses in the amount of approximately $10 million. As described in Note 4, approximately $8.6 million of the sale proceeds that were placed in escrow were due to be settled in August 2016; however, the release of these funds had been extended pending the resolution of the Claims, which were the subject of a lawsuit in the Delaware Chancery Court.
In April 2018, the Company reached agreement on the material terms of a settlement, and as a result, recorded a pre-tax charge of $1.225 million to discontinued operations for the quarter ended March 31, 2018. The settlement agreement was finalized in May 2018, and the settlement amount was funded from the escrow account. In addition, upon settlement and release of any further obligation on behalf of the Company, the remaining $7.4 million was released from escrow to the Company in the second quarter of 2018.
Lawn and Garden Lease Guarantee
In connection with the sale of the Lawn and Garden business, as described in Note 4, the Company is a guarantor for one of HC’s facility leases expiring in September 2025 for any remaining rent payments under the lease for which HC is unable to meet its obligations. Current annual rent for the facility is approximately $2 million, and is subject to annual CPI increases throughout the lease term. In connection with the financial risk associated with HC, as described in Note 4, the Company assessed its range of potential obligations under the lease guarantee, and as a result of this analysis, recorded a liability and related pre-tax charge of $10.3 million during the third quarter of 2018. The carrying value of the lease contingency as of March 31, 2019 and December 31, 2018 was $10.5 million and $10.4 million, respectively, which represents the initial liability recorded plus accretion and is included in Other Liabilities on the Condensed Consolidated Statements of Financial Position (Unaudited).
On December 11, 2018, No Spill Inc. filed suit against Scepter Manufacturing LLC and Scepter Corporation (“Scepter”) in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas asserting infringement of two patents, breach of contract, and trade dress claims in relation to plastic gasoline containers Scepter manufactures and sells in the United States. A schedule in the case has not yet issued. Scepter intends to defend itself vigorously in this matter. Due to the inherent uncertainties of litigation, the Company cannot accurately predict the ultimate outcome of this matter, and is unable at this time to determine whether the outcome of the litigation will have a material impact on its results of operations, financial condition, or cash flows. Accordingly, the Company has not currently recorded any reserves for this matter.