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U.S. reaches $21.8 million agreement for cleanup of Spectron Superfund site
Release Date: 01/25/2007
Contact Information: David Sternberg (215) 814-5548
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. EPA announced today it has reached a $21.8 million
settlement with 95 parties to clean up the Spectron Inc. Superfund Site in Elkton, Md.
Under this consent decree, the settling defendants have agreed to perform and fund an
estimated $19.5 million cleanup at the site. The settlement includes reimbursement to the EPA of
about $1.8 million in past cleanup costs, and payment of $507,300 to the natural resource trustees
to restore aquatic habitat and resources, including migratory fish such as blueback herring that
were harmed by contaminant releases from the site.
The U.S. Justice Department filed the proposed consent decree in federal district court
on behalf of EPA and four other agencies that are natural resource trustees – the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland
Department of the Environment, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The
settling defendants are alleged to have generated or arranged for the disposal or treatment of
hazardous substances contaminating the eight-acre Superfund site.
Under the Superfund statute, landowners, waste generators and waste transporters
responsible for creating a hazardous waste site are responsible for cleaning up the site, and are
liable for cleanup costs and damages to natural resources.
In 2002, the government reached a $5.8 million settlement with more than 480 so-called
"de minimis" parties including companies, individuals, municipalities, and state and federal
agencies that allegedly contributed relatively small amounts of the hazardous substances at the
Earlier this year, the government reached a settlement agreement with 48 additional de
minimis parties, that agreed to pay $405,596 to EPA and $469,130 to other potentially
responsible parties (PRPs) for their share of the cleanup costs.
In all, settling defendants are paying 96 percent of the total cleanup costs at the Spectron
Site – an estimated $39.65 million – and are providing adequate funding to restore natural
During industrial operations from 1961 through 1988, soil and groundwater at the
Spectron site became contaminated with hazardous substances including volatile organic
compounds such as trichloroethene (TCE) and perchloroethane (PCE). In 1961, Galaxy
Chemicals Inc. began operating a solvent recycling facility, reprocessing wastes from the
pharmaceutical, paint, and chemical process industries. After Galaxy Chemicals' bankruptcy in
1975, the facility was reopened as Solvent Distillers Inc., which in 1987 changed its name to
Spectron, Inc. In 1988, Spectron went bankrupt and closed the facility, abandoning many
hazardous substances used in its operations.
In 1989, EPA took emergency response measures at the site to remove and dispose of
approximately 1,300 drums and 62 tanks at the site containing hazardous substances, and entered
into a consent order requiring several PRPs to continue the cleanup activities. The site was
placed on the Superfund list in 1994. Additional information on the Spectron site cleanup,
including the EPA-approved cleanup plan, may be found at
The U.S. and the settling defendants reached the agreement announced today in
pre-litigation negotiations. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public
comment period and federal court approval.