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Release Date: 11/23/1999
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1064 Cristine Romano, USDOJ, 202-616-0903

BOSTON-- The United States Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced today the filing of a Consent Decree in federal district court in Vermont regarding cleanup of the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site in Burlington, Vermont. The Consent Decree requires 23 defendants to cleanup the hazardous waste site, reimburse EPA $5.25 million for past costs, reimburse the state of Vermont for certain costs, and undertake a wetlands enhancement and creation project to compensate for the past loss and damage to natural resources. The Consent Decree resolves the claims in a complaint filed today by the United States. This settlement comes after a highly touted and successful consensus building process in collaboration with the Pine Street Barge Canal Coordinating Council to develop a cleanup plan for the site.

Specifically, the Consent Decree requires the 23 settling parties to:

    • design and implement the cleanup of the site, a measure valued at $ 6 million;
    • reimburse the federal government $5.25 million for past costs plus interest;
    • pay 100% of EPA and state oversight costs; undertake a wetlands enhancement/wetlands creation project on 8.75 acres in the Burlington area to redress the past losses of natural resources, valued at an estimated $895,000; and
    • compensate the federal and State natural resource trustees for past costs and future oversight.
The Consent Decree will be subject to a public comment period. The United States will consider all comments before deciding whether to seek entry of the settlement. The work will be performed by three major defendants, Green Mountain Power Corporation, New England Electric System, and Vermont Gas Systems. The cleanup plan calls for the construction of an underwater cap in the canal to prevent exposure of aquatic life to contaminated sediments, land use restrictions to prevent migration of contaminants and exposure to contaminated groundwater, and long-term monitoring. Design work will begin this year, and construction of the cap is expected to begin in 2001.

"Today's settlement means healthier communities and a cleaner environment," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources. "It is a good example of just how much we can accomplish when we work together at the federal, state and local levels. These are real results that will benefit this region and our country."

"This settlement is significant on several counts. It ensures that the responsible parties will pay for an effective and sensible cleanup, and it compensates for the past damages to natural resources that were caused by poor management of hazardous wastes. Equally important, it is a victory for common sense and community involvement," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England administrator. "The Coordinating Council is to be commended for its commitment and long hours in crafting a solution that was fully endorsed by Burlington's citizens. It was a tough few years to get to this point and today the consensus building model used in Burlington stands as a national model for community-based decision-making."

Since being formed in 1993, the Pine Street Barge Canal Coordinating Council, a group of local community members, environmental activists, potentially responsible parties and representatives from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, United States Fish and Wildlife Service and EPA have worked together to examine technical data, evaluate cleanup options and ultimately formulate a cleanup plan that meets regulatory requirements and is acceptable to the community.

The Coordinating Council reached consensus on EPA's proposed plan in May of 1998 and at a public meeting held in June 1998 the new plan was overwhelmingly accepted. This was in sharp contrast to the negative reaction EPA received on its proposed 1992 cleanup plan.

The remedy selected by EPA to address contamination at the Pine Street site minimizes risks to public health, aquatic life, and birds by reducing potential exposure to site contaminants. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, and metals are found in the site's groundwater, soils and sediments.

The Pine Street Canal Site, a manufactured gas plant, operated from 1895 to 1966. The contamination at the site is from coal gasification wastes. In the 1970's, an oily substance was discovered in the wetlands adjacent to the barge canal. Investigations at the site conducted from 1989 to 1992 revealed extensive coal tar contamination in the soils and an oil-like substance in the canal wetlands, turning basin and Maltex Pond. Additional studies were conducted from 1994-1998 under the auspices of the Coordinating Council. The Pine Street Superfund site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983.

The following is a list of the twenty-three defendants:

Green Mountain Power Cooperation
New England Electric System
Vermont Gas Systems, Inc.
Southern Union Company
UGI Utilities, Inc.
General Electric Company
Lockheed Martin Corporation
General Dynamics Armament Systems, Inc.
Maytag Corporation
Citizens Properties, Inc.
City of Burlington, Vermont
Davis Development Corporation
Maltex Partnership
453 Pine Street Associates
BCV Corporation
Specialty Filaments, Inc.
UDV North America, Inc (formerly Heublein, Inc.)
Martin Marietta Corporation
Vermont Agency of Transportation
The Uhlmann Company
Vermont Railway, Inc.