WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) today announced two settlements that will lead to substantial cleanup of hazardous substances at facilities owned by Marine Shale Processors Inc. and Recycling Park Inc. in Amelia, La.
The first settlement is with Marine Shale, Recycling Park, and John Kent Sr. under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); the Clean Water Act; the Clean Air Act; and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). The second settlement is with Southern Wood Piedmont Company and Rayonier Inc. under RCRA and CERCLA related to the Marine Shale and Recycling Park facilities.
Under the proposed settlement and judgment with Marine Shale, Recycling Park and Mr. Kent, the Court will enter a $6.2 million judgment for penalties in favor of the United States and LDEQ and against Marine Shale and Recycling Park. A separate $6.2 million in bond proceeds from Marine Shale will be transferred to LDEQ for the closure and remediation of the contamination at the Marine Shale and Recycling Park facilities. An additional $850,000 letter of credit posted by Marine Shale will also be transferred to LDEQ and used for the cleanup of the Marine Shale and Recycling Park facilities.
In addition, Marine Shale, Recycling Park, and Mr. Kent are prohibited from owning or controlling a majority interest in or participating in the management of any business involved in waste management or recycling. The three parties are also required to provide access as required for investigation, closure and remediation at the Marine Shale and Recycling Park facilities and agree to a number of institutional controls and deed restrictions necessary to assure the implementation and effectiveness of the remedial actions to be taken at the facilities.
After EPA and LDEQ certify that the cleanups at the Marine Shale and Recycling Park facilities have been completed, the governments have the option of receiving the proceeds from the sale of the properties to satisfy the civil penalty judgment.
Under a separate proposed consent decree with Southern Wood Piedmont and its parent Rayonier, the two companies have agreed to perform a corrective action and cleanup at the Recycling Park facility located near the Marine Shale facility by placing a protective cap over the hazardous constituents in accordance with a work plan approved by EPA and LDEQ. The two companies will also pay $200,000 toward the cleanup at the Marine Shale facility.
“This joint enforcement action will bring to a favorable conclusion 16 years of litigation against Marine Shale and provide substantial funds for the cleanup of the remaining hazardous constituents at the Marine Shale and Recycling Park facilities,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “I am pleased that federal and state agencies have worked together to bring these facilities into compliance with our environmental laws and to focus cleanup efforts to reduce risk to the public from these sites.”
"The protection of the environment is a priority for all who expect to enjoy nature's bounty and a healthy life,” said Donald Washington U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. “We conclude this lengthy litigation with the promise that my office will remain vigilant and aggressive in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting those who would harm our environment."
“This agreement will bring what area residents have been waiting for: a cleanup that will demolish the old facility, including the kiln, and put the property back into productive use,” EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said.
"We believe that the proposed settlements, if approved, would resolve a complicated set of disputes in a manner that would benefit the people and environment," said Hal Leggett, LDEQ Assistant Secretary for the Office of Environmental Compliance. "We are now on a path that we hope will lead to the return of these properties to uses that will be positive for St. Mary Parish and the community."
In 1990, the United States and the state of Louisiana filed civil complaints against Marine Shale to stop violation of several environmental laws and recover civil penalties for Marine Shale’s illegal operation of a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility. After trials in 1994, the district court awarded the United States and the state $8 million in civil penalties. On appeal in 1996, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed $4 million of the civil penalty award to the government, but remanded the remaining $4 million of the award for further district court proceedings. Later that year, Marine Shale terminated operations at its facility.
The proposed settlement and judgment with Marine Shale, Recycling Park and Mr. Kent, as well as the proposed consent decree with Southern Wood Piedmont and Rayonier, are subject to a 30-day federal and a 45-day state public comment period and final court approval before becoming effective. A public hearing will be held regarding the proposed settlements at 7:00 P.M. on July 19, 2006, at the Morgan City Municipal Auditorium, 705 Myrtle Street, Morgan City, La.