WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today an agreement with over three dozen companies and government agencies that will result in a $56.4 million cleanup of the “Malone Services Company” Superfund Site in Texas City, Texas, a former waste-disposal site near the shore of Galveston Bay.
“Cleanup under today’s settlement will address the threat from more than a quarter of a million cubic yards of contamination left behind by the site operators in tanks and in a large unlined earthen basin,” said Robert Dreher, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Through this agreement, the parties have avoided costly and time-consuming litigation and expedited a cleanup that will protect the health and safety of citizens of Texas City and the coastal environment along Swan Lake.”
The settlement, which is subject to court approval, requires a group of 27 companies to clean up the site, pay EPA $900,000 towards past and future costs, and reimburse the state of Texas for $796,726 in past costs. Among the companies doing the clean-up work are BP Products North America Inc., Pharmacia (formerly Monsanto), Marathon Oil Company, Exxon Mobil Corporation and BASF Corporation. Seventy-six entities, including the United States and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are resolving their liability by paying cash to the group of 27. The United States, which shipped 1.62 percent of the waste, will pay $1,490,029. TCEQ, which shipped 0.00545 percent of the waste, will contribute $6,766. (EPA previously completed four rounds of administrative settlements with approximately 230 relatively small contributors of waste, so-called “de minimis” parties, collecting approximately $8.4 million. EPA will make at least $4.5 million from these and other recoveries available to the group of 27 companies carrying out the cleanup.)
“Once approved by the court, this settlement will reinforce the 'polluter pays' principle that is central to the Superfund program by obtaining a commitment for funds for cleanup work from the responsible parties at this site,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Sam Coleman. “This settlement ensures the cleanup of this site will continue, further protecting public health and the environment.”
The federal and state natural resource trustees for the site — the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of the Interior represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, TCEQ, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas General Land Office — determined that natural resources associated with upland-woodlands habitat, freshwater-marsh habitat and saltwater-marsh habitat, were injured by contamination. The parties that shipped waste to the site will pay the trustees a total of $3,109,000 to implement environmental restoration projects, which will be selected in the future by the trustees and described in a restoration plan on which public comment will be solicited.
The Malone Service Company operated a disposal facility for waste oil and waste chemicals between approximately 1964 and 1996. Hundreds of entities sent a total of approximately 481 million gallons of waste to the Site. Approximately 260,000 cubic yards of contaminated oily sludge is present in above-ground storage tanks and a multi-acre earthen impoundment. The consent decree requires that the oily sludge be solidified and placed into an on-site RCRA-Subtitle C-equivalent cell, along with contaminated soil. The groundwater will be monitored to confirm that the remedial action is preventing offsite migration.
The proposed settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed consent decree is available on the Justice Department web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html .