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Government Settles Final Halby Chemical Cleanup Claims

Release Date: 9/9/2003
Contact Information: David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

David Sternberg, (215) 814-5548

PHILADELPHIA – In legal papers filed in federal court, the United States has proposed a settlement of a lawsuit involving the cleanup of Halby Chemical Superfund Site in Wilmington, Del., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.

The proposed consent decree, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of EPA, resolves the final piece of the government’s litigation over the $20 million cleanup of the 15-acre Halby Chemical site, the former location of chemical manufacturing operations.

The settlement announced today involves three of the smaller responsible parties who are current and former owner/operators of a ten-acre portion of the site: Bollman Trucking Company, which leases and operates a truck-stop and filling station at the site; current property owner F & H Transport, Inc., which also operates its own business at the site; and former property owner Christiana Motor Freight Company. These companies have agreed to reimburse the government $75,000 for EPA’s past and future cleanup costs at the site.

Under the Superfund law, landowners, operators, waste generators and waste transporters are legally responsible for the contamination at a Superfund site and must either clean up the site, or reimburse the government or other parties for cleanup activities.

From 1948 to 1980, a portion of the site was the location of a chemical production facility operated by Halby Chemical Co. Until 1964, this facility discharged chemical waste into an unlined lagoon, which flowed into a tidal marsh, and ultimately into the Christina River. After manufacturing operations ceased in 1980, this plant was abandoned and unwanted chemicals were left on-site. Another company, Pyrites Company, Inc. processed ore at an adjacent facility until 1969.

These past industrial activities resulted in high levels of several contaminants -- including sulfur compounds, arsenic, manganese, lead, and other metals – in the soil, ground water and surface water at the Halby Chemical site. In 1986, EPA added the site to the Superfund list of the nation’s most contaminated sites.

In April 2000, the court approved a consent decree requiring Witco (corporate successor to Halby) and Pyrites to pay $9 million of EPA’s past costs, and complete the EPA-approved cleanup plan at an estimated cost of $11 million.

In March 1998, EPA approved a final cleanup plan, which involved capping arsenic-contaminated soil, filling chemically degraded wetlands and creating new wetlands at an off-site location, and instituting long-term measures to prevent the installation of drinking water wells at or near the site. The cleanup was completed in April 2001.

The settling parties in the settlement announced today neither admitted nor denied liability in the proposed consent decree, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Additional information on the Halby Chemical Superfund Site is available at: