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NORA Files Amicus Brief in New York Case Involving Charges of "Adulterated" Heating Oil

Thursday, April 18, 2013  
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NORA Files Amicus Brief in New York Case Involving Charges of "Adulterated" Heating Oil

On April 11, 2013, NORA filed a "friend of the court” brief in a New York class action case in which the plaintiffs allege that the defendant, Castle Oil Corporation, engaged in a fraudulent "blending scheme” by mixing used oil with virgin fuel and selling this "adulterated fuel” to unsuspecting consumers.

NORA’s brief pointed out that, contrary to the plaintiffs’ allegations, lawful forms of processing include blending used oil with virgin oil, as well as filtration, distillation, chemical or physical separation, and re-refining. Through one or more of these processing techniques, used oil may be recycled into various petroleum products, including heating oil. NORA’s brief, written by NORA’s General Counsel Christopher Harris, emphasized that "before it may be sold, the processed oil must be analyzed to ensure that it meets certain specification standards.”

NORA’s brief also explained that on-specification used oil fuel is the legal and functional equivalent of virgin oil. Citing EPA’s recent rule governing non-hazardous secondary materials, NORA’s brief quoted EPA’s conclusion that the levels of contaminants in on-spec used oil are either the same as or lower than the levels found in virgin oil. That is why EPA classifies on-spec used oil burned for energy recovery as a "traditional fuel” and not a secondary material or a solid waste.

Accordingly, the sale of processed used oil that meets all of the required specifications under federal, New York State and New York City standards for heating oil is neither illegal nor fraudulent.

The lead counsel for the plaintiffs is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an activist environmental attorney. When it was filed several weeks ago, the case was front-page news in the New York Times and many other newspapers.

"NORA is pleased to participate in this case to protect its members directly affected by this issue in New York City and others indirectly affected in the Northeast,” said NORA Executive Director Scott D. Parker. "NORA believes that a responsible used oil management system has many legitimate markets for used oil and related products. In NORA’s opinion, the market discussed in this case is legal.”

NORA will provide future updates to members on the status of this case. For additional information, contact NORA at 703-753-4277.

About NORA

NORA, An Association of Responsible Recyclers represents over 345 leading companies involved in responsibly recycling used oil and related materials that would otherwise negatively impact the environment. NORA members work every day to ensure that more than a billion gallons per year of used oil and related materials are collected, recycled and given another useful life. NORA has been defending and promoting the industry since 1985. For more information on NORA, visit

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