SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement Nov. 3 with WestRock CP LLC. The company will pay $1.6 billion in cash, plus stock shares valued at $3 million to resolve allegations related to hazardous waste near Prescott, Arizona.
In 2012, EPA found large amounts of arsenic and pentachlorophenol-contaminated material at the company’s abandoned site, which was used for wood treating and was on the Yavapai-Prescott Indian tribe reservation. EPA used its authority under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, the Compensation and Liability Act (the Superfund law), to clean up the site. The cleanup cost EPA $6.1 million; it involved removing 4,209 tons of contaminated soil.
“This unique settlement was structured to allow the agency to receive corporate shares instead of a full cash payment,” said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the Superfund Program for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office. “We are pleased to recover the majority of the taxpayer-provided funds spent on the environmental cleanup on tribal lands.”
Southwest Forest Industries Inc. operated the wood treating plant from 1961-1985. Its successor, Smurfit-Stone Container Enterprises Inc., went bankrupt. This left Westrock, a manufacturer of paperboard and paper-based packaging, as the sole company obligated to clean up the site.