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Denver, Companies Will Pay Future Cleanup Costs, Estimated At $43 Million

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement under which the City and County of Denver, Waste Management of Colorado, Inc., and six other companies agreed to pay $13.9 million to reimburse money spent by the United States in connection with the Lowry Landfill Superfund Site near Denver, Colorado. The settlement, which resolves three years of litigation, also requires that the settling defendants continue site cleanup and pay costs incurred by the United States with respect to the site in the future. Although initial cleanup of the site is nearly complete, long-term maintenance is expected to cost $43 million and continue for more than 30 years.

“This agreement brings to a close a contentious chapter in the history of Lowry Landfill,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kelly A. Johnson of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “By resolving several long-standing disputes, the Justice Department and the EPA were able to recover federal money that was spent at the site, making those funds again available for the protection of human health and the environment.”

Lowry Landfill is one of the nation’s largest Superfund sites. Occupying 508 acres in Arapahoe County, Colorado, the site received approximately 138 million gallons of liquid industrial waste from 1966 to 1980. The liquids were placed in unlined trenches and pits, most of which are covered by 25 to 60 feet of municipal refuse. The initial complaint filed by the Justice Department and the EPA on July 15, 2002 names a total of eight defendants, including two owner/operators, one transporter, and five generators. The five generator defendants are responsible for contributing nearly 94 million gallons of industrial waste to the site, about 68% of the total volume of industrial waste found there.

“The consent decree avoids a lengthy trial and is the result of more than three years of very intense negotiations. More importantly, it implements cleanup decisions at Lowry Landfill,” said Robert E. Roberts, EPA’s Region 8 Administrator. “I appreciate the efforts of both sides, as well as the input of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, in reaching this agreement.”

The investigation and cleanup of Lowry Landfill has been underway for more than 20 years. In 1984, the site was placed on the National Priorities List of the nation’s most contaminated toxic waste sites. In that same year, the EPA began its efforts to address hazards posed by the site by issuing a series of administrative orders which resulted in investigatory work and the construction and operation of a groundwater barrier, drain, collection, and treatment system. The EPA selected a remedy for the site in 1994, and the City and County of Denver, Waste Management of Colorado, Inc., and others have been performing that remedy since 1994 under an order from the EPA. The defendants will continue to perform the remedy under the consent decree rather than under the previous order.

Under the Superfund statute, the landowners, waste generators and waste transporters responsible for creating a toxic waste site are also responsible for cleaning up the site and are liable for the government’s or other parties’ cleanup costs.

The Justice Department filed today’s consent decree, on behalf of the EPA, in federal district court in Denver, Colorado. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at <>.