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Release Date: 03/01/2000
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - The federal government has asked the US District Court in Rhode Island to force the former owner/operator and generator of the Bristol Sandblasting Superfund Site in Warren, RI. to reimburse the government for the cost of cleaning up this site.

In a complaint filed this month, the federal government seeks to recover from Manuel Furtado Jr. the $1.53 million the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has spent removing soil that was contaminated with lead and PCBs. The site consists of two residential house lots at 20 and 22 Birch Swamp Road and a parcel of conservation land. EPA has tried unsuccessfully in the past to recover the cost of the cleanup from Furtado.

The complaint alleges that Furtado stripped paint from various types of vehicles and machinery by sandblasting at his property at 22 Birch Swamp Road. According to the complaint, Furtado stored and disposed of paint residue and sandblasting grit that contained lead-based paint between 1986 and 1992 at this location.

The complaint also alleges that Furtado directed employees of Bristol Sandblasting Company to dispose of contaminated sandblasting grit from other locations to 20 Birch Swamp Road as well as on neighboring conservation land owned by the Town of Warren.

"Mr. Furtado was responsible for harming the environment and causing a risk to the health of neighbors," said Mindy S. Lubber, acting regional administrator for EPA New England. "This former owner/operator and generator of hazardous substances must now take responsibility for the cost of cleaning the site. The government will do whatever it can to make sure the polluter, and not the taxpayer, foots this bill."

In November 1992 the company removed about 3.85 tons of contaminated soil from part of the site, and in 1994 DEM requested that EPA step in.

After EPA obtained samples from the site, the federal agency notified Furtado of his potential liability under the Superfund law. In 1995, EPA began cleaning the site and disposed of about 8,553 tons of soil from the property.

Under the US Superfund law, the cost of cleanup is the responsibility of whoever arranges for disposal of hazardous substances or whoever is the owner or operator of a facility at a time of disposal of hazardous substances at a facility from which there was a release or threat of release of hazardous substances. Furtado is allegedly liable for the amount EPA has paid to clean the site.