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Federal Government To Be Reimbursed For Cleanup Of Superfund Site In National Park

WASHINGTON, D.C. The Justice Department and the National Park Service (NPS) today announced a settlement under which Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company (3M) will pay $15.5 million for government cleanup work at the Krejci Dump Site and for injuries to natural resources in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northern Ohio. The cleanup effort, which other defendants will continue under a prior settlement, will ultimately restore the 47-acre former dump and salvage yard for integration into the rest of the Park.

3M, along with a number of other defendants, was originally sued in 1997 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Superfund law) by the Justice Department on behalf of NPS. 3M and its corporate predecessor Di-Noc Chemical Arts, Inc. arranged for the daily disposal of wastes from a printing operation in Cleveland at the Krejci dump during the 1950s and 1960s. These wastes included thousands of drums of discarded inks, solvents and photographic emulsions, along with other wastes containing hazardous substances.

The United States reached agreements with all of the defendants other than 3M by June 2000, but 3M refused numerous settlement offers made at or subsequent to that time. In September 2001, the United States District Court ruled that 3M was jointly and severally liable under the Superfund law for the cost of cleaning up the Krejci Site.

"In settling its liability for the Krejci cleanup after years of litigation and a trial, 3M will pay considerably more than it would have paid if it had joined the other defendants in agreeing to settle on the terms offered earlier in this case," said Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for Environment and Natural Resources at the Justice Department. "This outcome should send a message that the Department of Justice will vigorously pursue those parties that refuse to take responsibility for cleaning up their hazardous wastes."

According to the settlement, 3M will pay $14.7 million to reimburse the United States for costs incurred by the Department of the Interior in cleaning up hazardous substances at the former dump. 3M will also pay $800,000 for injuries to natural resources in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

"The good news is that this money will be put into a revolving fund to help clean up other hazardous waste sites on Department of the Interior properties," said National Park Service Director Fran P. Mainella. "The natural resources damages component of this settlement will be used to restore or replace resources inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park."

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park was created by Congress in 1974. It preserves 33,000 acres of pastoral valley along 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron. Over 3.5 million visitors use the Park each year, and it has more recreational users every year than Yellowstone.

The government purchased the property containing the Krejci Dump Site in 1980. In 1986 the Park Service discovered the former salvage yard contained large quantities of hazardous wastes, much of which was covered over by abandoned junk and vegetation.

To date, the cleanup has involved the removal of thousands of drums and pails of hazardous substances and millions of pounds of contaminated soils and debris. Future cleanup efforts will address residual contamination in site soils that would otherwise pose long-term risks to human health and the environment. Upon completion of the cleanup, the site will be restored to natural conditions consistent with surrounding Park habitat, and restrictions on public access will be removed. Total past and future cleanup costs could be as much as $55 million.

As a result of today's settlement with 3M and the agreements reached with other responsible parties, the United States will recover approximately $21 million in cash, which includes $1.3 million for natural resource damages, and obtain an agreement for nearly $30 million in cleanup work. Cleanup reimbursement received from the 3M settlement will be placed in the Department of Interior Central Hazardous Materials Fund, a revolving fund established by Congress for use at contaminated DOI properties throughout the country.

"Settlement of this case represents a major milestone in the 26 year history of this park," said John P. Debo, Jr., Superintendent of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. "Now we can at last proceed to restore the ecological integrity of this seriously degraded area."

"This settlement is a victory for everyone who enjoys visiting the Cuyahoga Valley National Park," said Emily M. Sweeney, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio.

The settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court in Akron. The decree is subject to public comment for 30 days before it will be presented to the court for approval.