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Nearly $32 Million In Settlements Reached To Aid In Cleanup At California Superfund Site

Release Date: 2/14/2003
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office,(415) 947-4307 , ENRD (202) 514-2007

     WASHINGTON, D.C.   The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today settlements with 50 parties totaling $31.9 million to be used to cleanup the Casmalia Resources Hazardous Waste Management Facility Superfund site in Central California.  The site was listed on the National Priorities List on September 13, 2001.

     The settlements are part of four separate consent decrees involving 46 private parties and four federal agencies.  Each of the settling parties is considered a major waste generator because individually it sent large volumes of waste to the site.  The settlements require all of the parties to pay their pro rata share of site costs based on volume, plus a premium for future costs.

     "The resolution of these fifty claims along with the significant settlements that we have entered into in the past with the other liable parties will help to ensure that the responsible parties pay for work at this site," said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "I am pleased with the continued success of the Department's work to negotiate fair settlements bringing necessary funding to the Casmalia site, which has been described as one of the largest hazardous waste disposal facilities on the national priorities list."

     "The EPA's highest priority at the Casmalia site is to protect public health and the environment," said Keith Takata, Director of the Superfund Program for the Pacific Southwest region of EPA.  "Today's settlement ensures money will be available for the EPA to continue making progress."

     The Casmalia site was a commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility located 10 miles from Santa Maria, California.  It consisted of more than 40 surface impoundments, two waste treatment systems and numerous landfills, including facilities for the treatment and disposal of solvents, pesticides, metals, PCBs, caustics and acids.

     Between 1972 and 1989, the site accepted in excess of 5.5 billion pounds of liquid and solid hazardous waste, including seven million drums of disposed waste material.  This massive volume of waste disposal is attributable to over 10,000 private and governmental entities.

     By the summer of 1992, the site's condition had deteriorated and was in need of certain short-term response actions to control the spread of pollutants at the site, particularly as the rainy season approached.  Therefore, EPA took action to secure the site and limit the migration of pollutants based on its Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) Section 104 removal authority.  

     In 1996, EPA required a group of potentially responsible parties to perform a portion of the response action at the site, first through a unilateral administrative order and later through a partial work settlement embodied in a judicial settlement.  EPA has also been engaged in a series of settlements with other parties to raise money to fund other portions of the response action.  The settlements announced today are part of that effort.  

     The United States will hold 60-day public comment periods on the proposed settlements, which will begin in the next several weeks.

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