WASHINGTON— CBS Corp. has agreed to pay $31.35 million to resolve all outstanding liability related to the cleanup of six Superfund sites in and near Bloomington, Ind., the Justice Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Indiana announced today. This is the last in a series of partial settlements that have been negotiated with CBS over the past 10 years after the parties abandoned their original settlement, which required CBS to excavate and incinerate PCB-contaminated materials.
Under the global settlement, CBS has agreed to perform additional cleanup actions, worth an estimated $22.8 million, to remove PCBs from groundwater and streams at the last three sites. CBS also will pay $6.67 million dollars to reimburse EPA for response costs incurred in investigating and cleaning up the sites.
Under the settlement, CBS has also agreed to pay $1.88 million to the Department of the Interior for the purpose of restoring or replacing natural resources that have been injured by on-going releases of PCBs from the sites. When combined with response actions performed under prior settlements, CBS will have spent an estimated $247 million in addressing PCB contamination at the Bloomington Superfund sites.
“Today’s settlement is the last chapter in our long-standing effort to secure a solution fully addressing the problems of PCB contamination at the Bloomington Superfund sites,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The settlement, which resolves litigation filed in 1985, underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to ensure that these hazardous waste sites are cleaned up, that the cleanup costs are borne by the responsible parties, and that injured or damaged natural resources are restored or replaced.”
“We are very pleased with this settlement, which provides for robust measures to protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Mary Gade. “The citizens of Bloomington have lived for too long with fish advisories because of the high concentrations of PCBs in fish in local streams. The settlement puts into place measures that will reduce PCB levels in fish and bring about a day when fish in Clear Creek, Stout’s Creek and Richland Creek can be safely eaten by people and animals alike.”
CBS is the corporate successor to Westinghouse Electric Corp., which operated an electrical capacitor production facility in Bloomington. The insulating fluid used in the manufacturing of the electrical capacitors contained polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, which are hazardous substances that do not break down readily by natural processes. Prior to 1972, defective capacitors were disposed of at local dumps resulting in the release or threatened release of hundreds of tons of PCBs into the environment. In addition, PCBs were discharged through the sewer system of the Westinghouse plant, resulting in contamination of the treatment works at the Winston Thomas Sewage Treatment Plant, which was permanently closed in the 1980s due to PCB contamination.
In 1985, after extensive litigation, CBS entered into a court-approved settlement with the United States, the State of Indiana, the City of Bloomington and Monroe County that required CBS to clean up six sites in and near Bloomington. The settlement required CBS to dig up all materials within the confines of each site and burn the excavated material in an incinerator to be constructed and operated by CBS. In the early 1990s, the parties decided to abandon the incineration remedy and return to negotiations in an effort to agree upon remedial measures to replace those in their original settlement.
“Working with EPA and our other co-plaintiffs, the City of Bloomington and Monroe County, we are pleased to have achieved what the citizens of Bloomington have long deserved and asked for – a comprehensive clean up that will ensure that they, and their children, can live and work in a clean and safe environment,” said Indiana Attorney General Steve Carter.
“We thank all of our partners for working with us to reach a resolution that will ensure the effective remediation of these sites,” said Thomas W. Easterly, Indiana Department of Environmental Management Commissioner. “The settlement is a great accomplishment for the protection of Hoosiers and our environment.”
The current settlement marks the fourth time that the parties have agreed to amend their original 1985 settlement. Under prior agreements, CBS cleaned up the Winston Thomas Sewage Treatment Plant and removed PCBs from five local dumps: Lemon Lane Landfill, Neal’s Landfill, Bennett’s Dump, Neal’s Dump and Anderson Road Landfill. Under the current settlement, CBS will perform additional remedial work to address PCB-contamination that continues to be released into nearby streams from Lemon Lane Landfill, Neal’s Landfill and Bennett’s Dump. Among other things, CBS will assume responsibility for owning and operating the water treatment plant at Illinois Cental Spring, which EPA built in 2000 as an interim emergency action. CBS will expand the existing treatment plant to capture and remove 99.9% of the PCBs being released into Clear Creek, which flows through the Bloomington city limits.
The settlement was approved last week by authorized officials of Monroe County and the City of Bloomington. The settlement, lodged today in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the court and will be available on the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html after public notice is published in the Federal Register.