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SETTLEMENT REACHED TO COMPLETE CLEANUP AT RHODE ISLAND'S LANDFILL and RESOURCE RECOVERY SITE -- Includes Preservation of Blackstone River Wetlands
Release Date: 02/19/1997
Contact Information: EPA Community Involvement, (617) 918-1067 Bill Brooks, U.S. Department of Justice, (202) 616-2771 Peyton Fleming, Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management, (401) 277-2771 ext. 2407
BOSTON -- Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of Justice and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced that settling parties will spend $525,000 to purchase fragile wetlands and establish conservation easements within the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor as part of a settlement at the Landfill & Resource Recovery Superfund Site in North Smithfield, R.I.
"This settlement will result in very tangible benefits for neighbors of the site, North Smithfield, and the entire Blackstone River region," said EPA's New England Administrator John P. DeVillars. "Although we can't turn back the contamination clock for the wetlands at this site, this settlement will ensure a complete cleanup and take a proactive step toward protecting this beautiful resource."
The 380,000 acre corridor includes a string of parks, museums, historic buildings and other land along the river. The settlement is expected to have significant public and environmental benefit because it will add to the acreage under protection in the corridor. These lands are essential for the movement and migration of a variety of species that depend on large areas or diverse resources for their survival.
"This settlement demonstrates the type of environmental results that are possible under the Superfund program," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The site cleanup will be completed by those responsible for the contamination, the government will recover most of its costs, valuable wetlands will be preserved, and an appropriate penalty will be paid. This is clearly an environmental success story."
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Director Timothy Keeney stated, "This is an example of how state and federal enforcement can be effectively combined to yield both a protective remedy and beneficial environmental outcomes." He added, "Although the wetlands affected by the site cannot be restored to their original value, natural damage recoveries will be utilized to preserve and restore wetlands in the Blackstone River ecosystem."
The complaints seek the recovery of past and future costs incurred by the United States and the State of Rhode Island and implementation of remaining cleanup work. The United States also seeks civil penalties for some of the defendants' alleged failure to fully comply with an administrative order for work at the site.
The settlement includes commitments for the settling parties to fund and complete cleanup work and to continue long-term operation and maintenance of the landfill cap and the landfill gas extraction and treatment system. The parties, who include the property owners and others who brought hazardous wastes to the site, will perform long-term monitoring of the ground water, surface water and air. The settlement includes more than $1 million in funds for continued government oversight of the work.
The settlement also reimburses the federal Superfund hazardous waste cleanup trust fund for $675,000 in past costs spent by the United States for site investigation and cleanup. The parties will also pay $400,000 in civil penalties to the United States for alleged violations of a unilateral administrative order. The United States will also receive $200,000 for damages to natural resources at the site under the trusteeship of the Department of the Interior. The State of Rhode Island will receive $200,000 as reimbursement for past state cleanup costs.
The parties conducted some of their negotiations under a mediation program in the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals, presided over by the Honorable David A. Mazzone.
In a letter sent after the settlement was reached Mazzone, "commend[ed] both sides for bringing an end to the contentious and time-consuming litigation. Both sides acted responsibly in representing the best interests of their respective clients while doing a great service to the public. Not only will the site be cleaned up for future beneficial use but public resources, in the form of the court's time, will be preserved."
The 28-acre Landfill & Resource Recovery Site is an inactive landfill on Oxford Turnpike. The landfill began as a sand and gravel operation. The landfill began accepting residential waste in 1927 and, over its years of operation, it also accepted commercial and industrial wastes for disposal.
In 1982, the site was included on the National Priority List, making it eligible to receive federal funds for investigation and cleanup. The State Superior Court ordered closure of the landfill in January 1985. EPA has estimated that more than 2 million gallons of hazardous chemicals including solvents, plating waste, asbestos, oils and dyes were brought to the landfill for disposal.
In 1986, directed by the Rhode Island DEM, the landfill's owners covered a majority of the site with a heavy plastic cover and clean soil. A system was also installed to vent methane gas from under the cover. These cleanup activities did not fully address the contamination.
In 1994 and 1995, under order from EPA, the settling parties upgraded the landfill cover, improved the surface water management system, and constructed the landfill gas collection and treatment system. These activities have minimized the migration of contaminants off the landfill and reduced threats to human health and ecological resources adjacent to the landfill.
List of Settling Parties
Landfill & Resource Recovery, Inc. North Smithfield, RI
Truk-Away of RI, Inc. Warwick, RI
Avnet, Inc. Woonsocket and Lincoln, RI
Boston Edison Company Boston, MA
CCL Custom Manufacturing, Inc. Cumberland, RI
Clean Harbors of Braintree Braintree, MA
Corning, Inc. Central Falls, RI
General Dynamics Corporation North Kingston, RI
Olin Corporation E. Providence, RI
Polaroid Corporation Waltham, MA
Stanley Bostich, Inc. East Greenwich, RI
Dexter Corporation Windsor Locks, CT
United Dominion Industries, Inc. New Bedford, MA
Waste Management of Massachusetts, Inc. Attleboro, MA
J. Scott Cannon
J. Robert Cannon
Charles S. Wilson
David J. Wilson