MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs, Horsehead Industries, Inc. and its former attorney, Lauren H. Kravetz, (collectively "Horsehead") filed this action to obtain documents from the Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA") under the Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), 5 U.S.C. § 552 (1994).
In two unpublished opinions, this Court resolved the merits of the disputes over Horsehead's FOIA requests, ordering a portion of the requested records to be disclosed and holding that other documents were exempt from the FOIA disclosure requirements. Horsehead Indus., Inc. v. EPA, No. 94-1299 (Oct. 1, 1996) (hereafter "October 1996 Opinion"); Id. (Jan. 3, 1997) (hereafter "January 1997 Opinion"). What remains to be resolved is Horsehead's request for attorneys' fees. The Court finds that, under the FOIA, Horsehead is eligible to be awarded attorneys' fees, but that, upon consideration of the four principal factors that guide the Court's discretion in awarding fees, Horsehead is not entitled to a fee award. Therefore, Horsehead's request shall be denied.
In 1981, Horsehead acquired 2,137 acres of land in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, on which it conducted zinc-based manufacturing activities. On a portion of the site, Horsehead later operated a facility called Horsehead Resource Development Co., which recycled a lead-laden dust. Prior to Horsehead's acquisition of the land, primary zinc smelting activities were conducted on the site dating to 1898.
In 1983, EPA listed the Palmerton Zinc Superfund Site on the National Priority List. 48 Fed. Reg. 40666 (Sept. 8, 1983). While studies were conducted regarding the nature of the contamination at the Palmerton Site, and although EPA may have developed preliminary conclusions that Horsehead was potentially responsible, it was not until 1991 that EPA Region III directed the National Enforcement Investigation Center ("NEIC") to conduct an investigation to determine the source or sources of the contamination and to provide support for possible enforcement action.
In June 1993, the NEIC completed its draft report and circulated it for peer review. The peer review comments were submitted on June 8, 1993 ("Peer Review memorandum"). And, by way of his memorandum of July 3, 1993, Frederick MacMillan, Remedial Project Manager for Eastern Pennsylvania and the manager for the Palmerton site, provided comments on the draft report ("MacMillan memorandum").
On July 7, 1993, EPA provided Horsehead with a "Notice of Potential Liability." This notice stated in relevant part: "This letter confirms notification of potential liability, as defined by [CERCLA] that your company, Horsehead Industries, Inc. (HII), including its division Zinc Corporation of America (ZCA), may have incurred with respect to the [Palmerton] Site." Pls. Mem. in Opp'n to Summ. J. Ex. 24 (EPA Region III Letter of July 7, 1993).
In January 1994, prior to finalization of the NEIC report, EPA Region III issued a press release that disseminated the preliminary results of the source identification study. In this press release, EPA stated that "the study confirms that contamination remaining from historical primary zinc smelting significantly contributes to lead, cadmium and zinc contamination with Palmerton soil and homes." Pls. Summ. J. Mem. Ex. D (EPA Press Release 94-63 (Jan. 27, 1994)). The press release also stated:
These results, among others, support EPA's assertion that Horsehead Industries and Paramount Communications, both of which owned the zinc smelting plant at one time, are responsible for major portions of the residential contamination.
Final results of the source identification study are due soon and should show remaining major sources of contamination. No other information about source identification is available at this time, though EPA will deliver the report as soon as it is available.