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Release Date: 2/15/2002
Contact Information: DOJ, (202) 514-2007,, EPA Region 9, (415) 947-4306, EPA HQ (202) 564-7818,

     Agreement Resolves Owner/Operators Liability at Central Coast Landfill

Los Angeles, Calif. -- The Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today a proposed settlement totaling nearly $7 million to be used in cleaning up the Casmalia Resources Superfund Site in Central California.  The agreement resolves the liability of the Estate of Kenneth H. Hunter, Jr., Casmalia Resources, Hunter Resources and other parties.  

Under the proposed settlement, the defendants will pay $6.957 million and waive any claim that the defendants may have to the Casmalia Closure/Post-Closure Trust Fund, currently valued in excess of $13 million.  The parties to the settlement will also waive all past and future cleanup claims against the United States.

"This settlement represents our continuing efforts to ensure that those responsible for contamination share in the costs of the cleanup," said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "Our efforts will remain focused on the remaining liable parties at the Casmalia site who have not settled, to make certain that EPA has all the necessary resources to assure that this site is cleaned up in a timely and protective manner."

"In reaching our second settlement in the past six months for this site, we are working to ensure that we will have the money necessary to devise and implement a long-term, protective cleanup," said Jane Diamond, division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest Superfund Office.  "We owe it to those who live and work in the area to bring all our resources to bear in addressing this complex and challenging site."

The Casmalia Resources Site, located 10 miles from Santa Maria, Calif., was an active hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility from 1973 to 1989.  The site accepted approximately 5.5 billion pounds of waste from about 10,000 contributors, placing it in 92 waste management facilities that included landfills, ponds, shallow wells and treatment units.

In 1991, the site owner/operator abandoned active efforts to clean up and close the facility, claiming financial difficulties.  In 1992, the EPA took action to control the site and address immediate health threats. The site, which is contaminated with a variety of metals, pesticides and other toxic materials, continues to undergo investigation and cleanup work by the Casmalia Steering Committee with oversight by the EPA and the state.

On Dec. 23, 1997, the United States filed suit against  Kenneth H. Hunter, Casmalia Resources and Hunter Resources.  The United States alleged in its complaint that the defendants owned and/or operated the site and sought  to recover costs associated with its cleanup.    

Today's announcement is part of an ongoing EPA effort to secure funding for the cleanup of the 252-acre landfill, which was designated as a federal Superfund site in September 2001.  The proposed consent decree was lodged in the Central District of California.  The United States will hold a 60-day public comment period on the proposed settlement.  For more information on the document, or to submit comments, contact Marie Rongone at (415) 972-3891.