FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20, 2004
TDD (202) 514-1888
HISTORIC $56 MILLION SETTLEMENT PAVES WAY FOR
RESTORING FISH AND WILDLIFE HABITAT IN INDIANA
GARY, I.N. - Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, Indiana Governor Joe Kernan, and Assistant Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett announced today that eight companies have agreed to pay nearly $60 million to restore natural resources in the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Canal.
Cruden, Kernan, Scarlett, and other officials announced details of the agreement today at Marquette Park in Lake County along the Calumet River corridor, one of the most heavily industrialized areas of the country. In addition to the payments that will be made to fund restoration projects in the waterway, the companies have agreed to set aside for habitat protection 233 acres of land that contains important fish and wildlife habitat.
“This settlement will bring substantial benefits to communities along the Grand Calumet River and help restore areas contaminated over a century of industrial activity,” said Deputy Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today's action demonstrates the hard work of both the federal and state governments to correct the environmental problems associated with the river and the willingness of those responsible to settle this matter using their resources for restoration rather than litigation.”
“Today’s announcement is the culmination of eight years of unprecedented cooperation between state, federal and local officials and businesses to clean up the Grand Calumet,” Governor Kernan said. “Not only will this settlement enhance the tireless efforts of community groups in Northwest Indiana to restore this globally rare habitat, it also will strengthen the quality of life for generations to come in Northwest Indiana.”
“This settlement is an example of unprecedented cooperation with companies to achieve restoration results,” said Lynn Scarlett, Interior’s assistant secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. “The agreement is the result of a significant partnership effort to restore natural resources and enhance an urban environment. We look forward to working with the private firms that are party to this agreement as full partners in the continued stewardship of this valuable river resource.”
Led by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the U.S. Department of Interior through its Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), a team of seven federal and state agencies has been working since 1996 to determine the extent of natural resource damages from a century of industrial releases of oil and other hazardous substances into the waterway. Studies showed that the releases contaminated the river’s water and streambed, affecting migratory birds, fish, invertebrates and aquatic insects. The settlement with the Indiana and U.S. governments, lodged by the U.S. Department of Justice, calls for:
Settlement funds will be used to clean up, restore and protect the waterways and surrounding area, which includes globally rare dune and swale habitat.
Kernan, Scarlett and other officials complimented the legal teams from federal and state agencies who worked through highly complex federal and state laws and negotiated for years.
The settling companies are Atlantic Richfield Co. (and ARCO Environmental Remediation, L.L.C.); BP Products North America Inc.; E.I. Du Pont De Nemours and Co.; Exxon Mobil Corp.; GATX Corp.; Georgia-Pacific Corp.; ISPAT-Inland Inc.; and United States Steel Corp. LTV Steel Co. was also a part of those discussions before declaring bankruptcy, and a substantial portion of the company’s cost share was paid through the bankruptcy.
The governmental agencies involved are U.S. Department of the Interior through USFWS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Department of Homeland Security through the U.S. Coast Guard; U.S. Department of Commerce through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; IDEM; Indiana Department of Natural Resources; U.S. Department of Justice; and Indiana’s Attorney General’s office.