Companies settle dumping allegations

Bryan Cohen Jan. 3, 2012, 10:54am


SMITHFIELD, R.I. (Legal Newsline) - Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced a settlement on Friday between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several companies that allegedly dumped waste at a site in Smithfield.

The settling defendants include Life Technologies Corporation, Rohm and Haas Company, Morton International LLC, Bristol Inc., FKI Industries Inc. (formerly known as Acco-Bristol Division of Babcock Industries Inc.), the Black and Decker Corporation and Ashland Inc. The agreement was also signed by the EPA, the state of Rhode Island and the United States Department of Justice.

"The settlement announced today allows the state to finally move forward with a plan and much-needed funding to remediate the environmental damage caused by years of dumping hazardous chemical wastes at the Davis site," Kilmartin said.

"This cleanup is on top of the successful action the office of attorney general and DEM already took to get the millions of tires removed. The residents in the vicinity of the site can breathe easier knowing a remedy to the problem that plagued them for many years is in sight."

In 1992, the state Attorney General's Office initiated a suit against William Davis, requiring the removal of millions of tires that had been disposed at the site as far back at the 1970s. While the last of the tires were removed in 2000, Kilmartin's office remains committed to the remediation of the environmental hazards that existed on the Davis Liquid Waste Superfund site as a result of decades of solid and hazardous waste storage.

Under the consent decree, the settling defendants agreed to perform the groundwater remedial design and remedial action at the site for "Operable Unit 2" and will pay all future costs of response, including costs for oversight.

The EPA will contribute up to $9.5 million in special account funds to the groundwater cleanup. The special account money is comprised of payments made by previous settling parties and is set aside specifically for use at the site. The contaminants that are of most concern in the bedrock and overburden groundwater that exceed state and federal standards are metals, including arsenic and manganese, pesticides such as dieldrin and aldrin, semi-volatile organic compounds, including bis ether and volatile organic compounds such as tetracholorethene, trichloroethene, vinyl chloride and benzene. Exposure risks for residents from groundwater that has been contaminated have been minimized because area homes are now on public water.

The EPA signed a record of decision amendment in 2010 to remedy the site. The remedy decision called for performing long-term monitoring and five-year reviews to ensure that the remedy is protective of human health and the environment, implementing institutional controls to prevent future use of the groundwater, injecting reagent into the bedrock in the previous source area to address the most contaminated part of the bedrock plume, injecting a treatment reagent into the plume core to biologically and chemically degrade contaminants in the overburden aquifer and performing pre-design information gathering to support the design of the remedy.

Under the terms of the settlement, work on the remedy design can begin. The design process is expected to take approximately a year-and-a-half, including the information gathering needed to support the design. Site construction is expected to start in 2013. The EPA does not expect the cleanup to have significant local community impacts.

The Davis Liquid Waste Superfund site is located in a rural area of Smithfield on approximately 10 acres. The site accepted liquid and chemical wastes throughout the 1970s such as metal and paint sludges, laboratory pharmaceuticals, fly ash, metals, halogens, phenols, pesticides, caustics, acids, solvents and oily wastes. Liquid wastes were transported in bulk tank trucks and drugs and were dumped directly into seepage pits and unlined lagoons. The operator periodically excavated the semi-solid materials of the lagoon and dumped them at several locations on the site, covering them with soil.

Other operations included the collection of machine parts and salvaged vehicles, tire shredding and metal recycling. Local officials received complaints from nearby residents about chemical odors in their private water supply in the mid-1970s. The drinking water wells were later found to have been contaminated by multiple chemicals. The EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983.

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Organizations in this Story

State of Rhode Island
82 Smith St
Providence, RI 02903

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20460

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