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Release Date: 10/8/1999
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new cleanup strategy for the Casmalia Disposal site will save over $100 million compared to its previous estimate, enabling the agency to make substantially reduced  settlement offers to over 800 potentially responsible parties. Parties that receive these offers will be able to settle for 40-50% less than the settlement offers they received earlier this year.  These savings result from a revised cleanup strategy for the site that dropped the estimated  cleanup costs by 32%.

     "We took a hard look at our cleanup strategy and our settlement terms after these parties raised some legitimate concerns.  We now have settlement offers that strike a better balance between EPA's responsibility to care for this site and the parties' settlement needs.  But these parties still must  pay their share of the cleanup costs," said Julie Anderson, director of U.S. EPA's western regional Waste Management Division.  "Up to now, all cleanup work at the site has been paid for by the 54 parties which contributed the largest amounts of waste, and EPA's Superfund Program."
     EPA has lowered its cost estimate for Casmalia cleanup to $271.9 million, down from $399 million.  The savings result from a modified cleanup strategy which maximizes near-term capital construction, thus reducing operation and maintenance costs in the future.

     In letters sent today to the over 800 potentially responsible parties, U.S. EPA is offering two settlement options.  In both options, the settlement amounts are based on the amount of waste a party sent to the Casmalia Disposal Site.  Parties can choose to settle all of their liability at the site now, or can pay less now and retain some liability into the future.  Parties that settle all their liability now will pay about 40% less than under the earlier settlement offers.  Parties that choose to retain some liability into the future can pay 50% less than the original offer.

     For the largest party receiving a new settlement offer, this results in a reduction in the payment amount from $493,026 to $317,933 if the party fully settles its liability and $243,558 if it retains some liability.  All the other settlement amounts are smaller, with about half in the $10,000 to $100,000 range.  Recipients will have until December 6 to accept the new offers.

     Municipalities, which include  cities and sanitation districts, may see even further reductions in settlement amounts if they sent only municipal solid waste or municipal sewage sludge to  Casmalia.   Instead of paying 11 cents per pound to fully settle for the municipal solid waste and municipal sewage sludge they sent to Casmalia, municipalities may be eligible to pay only $5.40 per ton of such waste -- only 0.27 cents per pound.

     The Casmalia Disposal Site, located  near Santa Maria, California, operated as a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility in the 1970's and 1980's.  The funds that the U.S. EPA  collects from settling parties will pay for the proper closure and long-term monitoring of the Casmalia Disposal Site.   For example, the settlements will pay for construction of landfill caps and buttresses, ground water monitoring, site maintenance, and community involvement efforts.  

     Between 1992 and 1996, the U.S. EPA worked to stabilize conditions at the Casmalia Disposal Site.  In 1996, U.S. EPA negotiated a settlement with 54 waste generators. These waste generators, called the Casmalia Steering Committee, are now completing the construction of a cap for the landfill containing pesticides and solvents, and are designing caps for other landfills at the site.  These future landfill caps will be paid for, in part, by funds from the more than 800 parties that will receive the new settlement offers within the next few days.  Later, U.S. EPA will notify many  additional parties of their responsibility to contribute to the cleanup effort at Casmalia.  

    During 16 years of operation between 1973 and 1989, the Casmalia Disposal Site took in more than four billion pounds of waste.  The facility's owner/operators accepted a wide variety of industrial wastes including pesticides, solvents, acids, metals, cyanide, non-liquid PCBs, and other hazardous waste from about 10,000 different parties.  In the early 1990s, the facility's owner/operators abandoned efforts to properly close and clean up the site.  In addition to seeking funds from those parties that sent waste to the Casmalia Disposal Site, the U.S. EPA is vigorously prosecuting its lawsuit against the former owner/operators, namely, Kenneth H. Hunter, Jr., Casmalia Resources, and Casmalia Disposal.  For more information, members of the public are invited to call
the following toll-free number: 1-800-394-2670.

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