WASHINGTON—The U.S. government received a $124 million payment today from Hercules Incorporated to repay costs the EPA incurred in cleaning up the Vertac Chemical and Jacksonville Landfill Superfund Sites in Jacksonville, Ark., the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced.
A judgment issued by Eastern District of Arkansas in 2005 found Hercules and Chemtura Canada Co., formerly known as Uniroyal Chemical Ltd., liable for all Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability (CERCLA) response action costs incurred by the EPA at the sites. Chemtura paid $3,068,974.76 to the United States on May 17, 2007, for a total payment by the two companies of $127,561,245.76.
“After a trial and numerous court actions regarding this well-known site,” said Matthew J. McKeown, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, “it is gratifying to be able to have this considerable payment replenish the superfund where it can be used to clean up other sites.”
“We’re very pleased with the Supreme Court’s recent decision which ended over 15 years of litigation concerning response costs incurred by EPA,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “The court’s decision reaffirms our belief that those responsible for contamination at a site should be held accountable for the cleanup costs no matter how long it takes.”
The $124,492,271 payment, as well as the payment by Chemtura, was paid into the EPA’s CERCLA Superfund. The U.S. Supreme Court’s denial of Hercules and Chemtura’s petitions of certiorari and the subsequent payments conclude litigation that began in 1980. The Superfund, created by Congress in 1980, is the federal government's trust fund used to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.
Hercules manufactured millions of pounds of herbicides at the site including Agent Orange, a 50/50 mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, which was used by the U.S. military as a defoliant during the Vietnam War. Nearly 10 years after dioxin was no longer being made at the site, EPA found dioxin contamination and other hazardous wastes throughout the plant site, including the soils, groundwater, plant equipment, sediments of nearby waterways and the backyards of nearby residential areas. Hercules was also found responsible for the costs of cleaning up a municipal landfill used by Hercules as a dump site that also contained dioxin.