WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that they have reached separate agreements with NCH Corporation (NCH) and FMC Corporation (FMC) to resolve claims against them relating to the costs of cleanup at the Higgins Farm and Higgins Disposal Superfund sites in Somerset County, N.J. Both companies have agreed to reimburse the federal government for costs incurred cleaning up the contamination found in the soil and ground water at the sites.
As a part of these settlements, NCH will take over operating the ground water treatment plant that EPA built at the Higgins Farm site, saving the government approximately $12 million in future costs. NCH has also agreed to pay EPA more than $2 million to cover past cleanup costs at both sites. FMC has agreed to pay EPA almost $17 million, including $14.5 million for EPA’s cleanup costs at Higgins Farm. Under an earlier agreement with EPA entered in 2004, FMC constructed and began operating a ground water treatment plant at the Higgins Disposal site. The Department of Energy is also paying more than $9 million to cover past and future cleanup costs at both sites.
“The government has spent millions of dollars cleaning up contaminated soil and ground water at both the Higgins Farm and Higgins Disposal Sites,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We are pleased that today’s settlements help ensure that the government is reimbursed for its work, and we reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that hazardous waste sites are cleaned up.”
“These settlements illustrate how Superfund is supposed to work – making polluters pay for cleaning up sites,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Now, we can continue to operate treatment facilities at the sites that will address any remaining contamination.”
The Higgins Farm Superfund site is located in a rural area along Route 518 in Franklin Township. The site is approximately 75 acres in size and is currently operated as a cattle farm. In March 1989, EPA placed the Higgins Farm site on the National Priorities List (NPL) of the country’s most contaminated sites.
The Higgins Disposal Superfund site is located on a 37.6-acre parcel on Laurel Avenue in Franklin Township. From the 1950s to 1985, the site owner operated a waste disposal business including a landfill and waste transfer station. The owner’s family currently maintains a residence on the site, an equestrian facility (Hasty Acres Riding Club) and a truck repair shop. In August 1990, EPA placed the Higgins Disposal site on the NPL.
The Department of Justice lodged both consent decrees today in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. The consent decrees will be subject to a 30-day public comment period and subsequent judicial approval. Both are available on the Justice Department website at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
For more information about the Higgins Disposal site: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/0200359c.htm.
For more information about the Higgins Farm site: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/npl/0201094c.htm.