Settlement reached over Mass. SuperFund site

Bryan Cohen Aug. 4, 2011, 1:54pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $1 million settlement on Wednesday with two formers owners and two current owners of a SuperFund site in Walpole, Mass., over allegedly contaminated land and water.

The Blackburn & Union Privileges Superfund Site includes 22 acres of contaminated water and land in Walpole, which resulted from the operation of various industrial facilities dating back to the 19th century that exposed the site to arsenic, asbestos, lead and other hazardous substances.

"The citizens of Walpole have had to live with the environmental impact of this contamination for many years," Coakley said. "We are pleased that today's agreement will not only require the responsible parties to reimburse taxpayer dollars, but will also provide funding to begin restoring or replacing the wetland and other natural resources."

The private parties involved in the settlement include two former operators and owners of the site, W.R. Grace & Co.-Conn. and Tyco Healthcare Group LP, in addition to current owners Shaffer Realty Nominee Trust and BIM Investment Corp.

From approximately 1915 to 1936, a predecessor of W.R. Grace manufactured asbestos clutch linings and brake linings on a large portion of the property. From approximately 1946 to 1983, a predecessor of Tyco Healthcare operated a cotton fabric manufacturing business, which used caustic solutions, on a part of the property.

In a 2010 settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the four private parties agreed to perform remedial action to clean up the site at an estimated cost of $13 million.

The consent decree lodged Wednesday resolves both the state and federal National Resource Damages liability claims, which requires the parties to pay $1,094,169.56 to the state and federal natural resources trustees, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Interior for injuries to ecological resources, including wetlands and groundwater, which provide habitat for wading birds and waterfowl such as great blue herons and black ducks. The trustees will use the settlement funds for natural resource restoration projects in the area.

A total of $300,000 of the funds will be distributed to EEA-sponsored groundwater restoration projects and $575,000 will be used for ecological restoration projects jointly sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and EEA. Projects that are jointly sponsored by EEA and services that achieve both groundwater and ecological restoration will receive $125,000. An allocation of $57,491.34 will go towards reimbursement for the service's assessment costs and $36,678 will be distributed as reimbursement for the state's assessment costs.

After the consent decree is approved, EEA and the service will develop proposed restoration plans to be funded by the settlement funds.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
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