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EPA Reaches Settlement with Alcan Aluminum Corporation Over Superfund Site in Broome County

Release Date: 12/21/2004
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(#04190) NEW YORK – The federal government has reached an agreement with Alcan Aluminum Corporation (Alcan) requiring the company to pay up to $1,760,000 in connection with the Tri-Cities Barrel Superfund site, located in the Town of Fenton, Broome County, New York. The agreement is embodied in a Consent Decree, which was lodged on December 10, 2004 in United States District Court in Albany by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Alcan had previously been unwilling to join a settlement between the government and other parties responsible for contamination at the site, which resulted in a cleanup.

“We’ve made substantial progress in cleaning up the site and it is important that Alcan take responsibility for its share of that cleanup,” said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Kathleen C. Callahan. “The significant settlement, which includes a penalty, sends the message that EPA will vigorously pursue responsible parties to compel them to meet their legal cleanup responsibilities.”

The site includes a 15-acre property, of which seven acres were used by the now defunct Tri-Cities Barrel Company for a barrel reconditioning business from the 1950's through 1992. Tri-Cities Barrel Company took in barrels that had been used for industrial chemicals by a large number of companies, and cleaned and reconditioned them. Operations at the site and chemical residues in the barrels resulted in contamination of the soils, sediments and ground water. Alcan was among the companies that had barrels reconditioned at the facility.

In August 2001, the federal government settled with companies that agreed to undertake the long-term permanent cleanup of the site under EPA supervision, at a cost then estimated at $20 million. The settling parties recently completed the cleanup of contaminated soils and sediments at the site and they and EPA are now reevaluating the need to actively address the ground water. Alcan did not participate in the cleanup settlement and, in September 2001, EPA ordered Alcan to participate in the cleanup. Alcan did not comply with EPA’s order.

The current settlement with Alcan consists of a $360,000 penalty for violating EPA’s order, a $600,000 payment for the Agency’s past response costs and payments of up to $800,000 for EPA’s future costs in connection with the cleanup of pollution at the site. In earlier settlements, EPA received a total of about $1 million from a number of other companies that had each sent only a small amount of chemical barrels to the site. With the Alcan settlement, all 73 financially viable parties that were deemed responsible for the contamination will be contributing to the cost of cleaning up the site.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-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 before becoming final.