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U.S. Announces the Settlement of Superfund Case to Aid Cleanup of the Li Tungsten Site in Glen Cove, New York

Release Date: 09/30/2003
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(#03115) ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, THOMAS L. SANSONETTI, Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division, and JANE M. KENNY, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), today announced that in settlement of a civil environmental matter, two entities will contribute funds that can be used for the continuing cleanup of the contamination at the Li Tungsten Superfund Site in Glen Cove, Nassau County, New York. In addition, the United States, on behalf of potentially liable federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, the General Services Administration, and the Department of Commerce, will also contribute funds, including an initial payment of $20 million. Thereafter, the United States will be required to make additional payments in the amount of 51 percent of the amount by which the total response costs at the Site exceed $39,216,000.

For a period of time, the United States owned certain land and buildings at the Li Tungsten Site that were used to refine tungsten in support of the defense effort during World War II. In addition, the government, among other entities, sent tungsten ore to be refined at the Site during World War II and for some time thereafter.

"The remediation of Superfund sites in this district is an enforcement priority for this office," said United States Attorney MAUSKOPF. "This settlement provides funds that can be used to help complete the remediation of the Site to protect the environment and the public health."

The settlement is made pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund statute, passed by Congress to help accomplish the cleanup of toxic waste sites across the country. Under the settlement, the City of Glen Cove, a potentially liable party, will pay, in addition to the $3.4 million in previous payments it has made, $1.6 million to be placed in a special account which can be used for the clean-up of the Site. In the past, the City of Glen Cove has also provided $200,000 in in-kind services. Wah Chang Smelting and Refining Company of America, Inc., another potentially liable party in connection with the Site, will pay $700,000 under the settlement. The City of Glen Cove owned part of the Site for approximately 25 years, and Wah Chang owned and operated the plant at a part of the Site during periods of time when hazardous wastes were disposed of at the Site. Both payment amounts were determined after consideration of the parties' ability to pay.

According to Assistant Attorney General SANSONETTI, "The settlement represents another step in our ongoing effort to assure that those parties responsible for causing or contributing to hazardous waste sites, including the United States itself, contribute to the cleanup."

"The settlement is particularly important because it will promote cleanup of the Site to protect human health and the environment," stated EPA Regional Administrator KENNY."Redevelopment of the Site is being pursued by the City, but cannot be completed until the remediation is concluded. This settlement will provide the needed funds for the cleanup effort to be continued."

EPA has already performed a number of actions at the Site that have contributed to its remediation, including the extraction and decontamination of more than 250 tanks used in the tungsten extraction process and the demolition of several contaminated and unstable buildings which housed such tanks. The Agency, utilizing its own funds and funds provided by the City, has also completed the excavation and segregation of radioactively-contaminated soils on portions of the Site. The proposed settlement will be subject to a thirty-day public comment period, which will begin shortly, upon the publication of a notice in the Federal Register. In addition, the settlement requires approval by the United States District Court prior to becoming final. The government has identified other potentially responsible parties at the Site who should also bear a portion of the costs for remediation of the Site.

The lead negotiators on behalf of EPA were, Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah B. Zwany, Trial Attorney Peter Kautsky, Environment and, Natural Resources Division, and Assistant Regional Counsel James Doyle of EPA.

The settling federal agencies were represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Artemis Lekakis and Sharon Volckhausen.