FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2004
ENRD (202) 514-2007|
HENRY ELSEN, EPA, (406) 457-5030
DIANA HAMMER, EPA, (406) 457-5040
EPA TO RECEIVE $62 MILLION FOR PAST CLEANUP COSTS
HELENA, M.T. - The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today they have reached an agreement with Atlantic Richfield in a consent decree reimbursing the federal government for cleanup costs at four portions of the Clark Fork Basin Superfund sites.
Under the consent decree, EPA will receive $50 million in payments from Atlantic Richfield Company-a subsidiary of British Petroleum, commonly known as ARCO-and another $12 million from the US Judgement Fund, for a total of $62 million. The consent decree was negotiated to cover EPA cleanup costs in the Clark Fork Basin from the early 1980s until July 31, 2002.
EPA and ARCO have been in litigation over these costs in the federal district court for Montana for many years.
As part of the agreement, ARCO will agree not to assert liability defenses against the United States for reimbursement for the considerable costs it has incurred at the sites or for the conduct of future cleanup actions. The agreement also settles all of ARCO's counterclaims against several federal agencies which ARCO claims are also liable parties under Superfund.
“This excellent settlement recovers substantial funds that can be used for cleanup at these Superfund sites, and it clears the way for future Clark Fork Basin settlements with Atlantic Richfield that will vastly improve conditions in the basin,” said John Cruden, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division at the Justice Department.
“The citizens of Montana will benefit greatly from this settlement, which should expedite future cleanup efforts from Butte to Anaconda and along the Clark Fork River,” said William Mercer, the United States Attorney for the District of Montana.
ARCO’s waiver of its key liability defenses and all of its counterclaims against the United States signals that ARCO recognizes its responsibility to clean up those sites as well.
“We are accomplishing two important goals with this agreement. First, the cleanup of the Clark Fork River, Butte, Anaconda, and Warm Springs Pond sites will move forward,” said Tom Skinner, Acting Assistant Administrator, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “And second, the people responsible for this problem will pay for that cleanup.”
“This settlement will hopefully streamline future discussions with ARCO for the remaining cleanup actions in the Clark Fork Basin,” said Carol Rushin, U.S. EPA Region 8 Assistant Regional Administrator for Enforcement. “We’re very pleased we were able to reach an agreement with ARCO.”
The agreement will be the subject of a 30-day public comment period after DOJ issues a federal register notice for the settlement.