United States Announces Settlement of Superfund Suit for Reimbursement of Cleanup Costs at the Spectrum Finishing Corporation Site in West Babylon, New York
Benton J. Campbell, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and George Pavlou, Acting Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, today announced the settlement of a civil environmental lawsuit seeking the reimbursement of the costs of EPA’s cleanup at the Spectrum Finishing Corporation Site in West Babylon, New York.
The defendants, the Estate of Joseph Vazzana, Sr. and Joseph Vazzana, Jr., previously admitted liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”), commonly known as the Superfund law, and agreed to reimburse EPA for up to $1,100,000 in response costs, which included the costs of removing drums containing hazardous substances found at the Site. These hazardous substances, which resulted from Spectrum’s former metal finishing operations, were abandoned by Spectrum after the company ceased operations in 1994. The settlement was made pursuant to CERCLA, which Congress passed to help accomplish the cleanup of toxic waste sites across the country.
Joseph Vazzana, Sr., now deceased, was the president of Spectrum and an owner of the property on which Spectrum’s operations were carried out. Joseph Vazzana, Jr. participated in the operations of Spectrum, including an incomplete cleanup at the Site, and has managed the property since Spectrum ceased its operations. The government also sought to recover its costs through an in rem action to foreclose its lien against the site property, denominated as One Acre of Land, More or Less, Located Contiguously at 51 Cabot and 50 Dale Streets, West Babylon, New York. The settlement payment to EPA is to be made from, among other sources, the proceeds from a sale of the property.
Today’s settlement agreement sets forth a formula for distribution of the proceeds from the sale of the Site property. Depending on the sale price of the property, EPA will receive up to between 80 and 100 percent of the sales proceeds. The remainder, if any, will be paid to Suffolk County and the State of New York. Following the sale, any unreimbursed EPA response costs are to be paid by the Estate of Joseph Vazzana, Sr.
“Protecting the public and our environment from the dangers of toxic waste is an enforcement priority of this Office,” stated United States Attorney Campbell. “This case is one in a series filed in this district to ensure compliance with CERCLA and other environmental statutes, and it represents another step forward in our mission to ensure that those responsible for causing or contributing to hazardous waste sites are held accountable and are required to assume responsibility for the cleanup.”
“EPA’s cleanup of the Spectrum Finishing site, which was completed in 1998, involved removal of corrosive solids and wastewater as well as numerous drums and vats of hazardous wastes,” said Acting Regional Administrator Pavlou. “With this settlement we are sending a powerful message that EPA will aggressively pursue polluters and uphold the Superfund principle that the polluter pays.”
The settlement was subject to a 30-day public comment period, during which time no comments were received. The settlement is conditioned upon approval by the United States District Court before becoming final.
The government’s case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Kelly Horan Florio. EPA was represented by Assistant Regional Counsel Elizabeth Leilani Davis.
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