Rutgers Organics Corporation Agrees to $18.75 Million Cleanup and $500,000 Restoration of Injured Natural Resources at Nease Superfund Site in Ohio
The Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Interior and the state of Ohio announced today that Rutgers Organics Corporation (Rutgers) has agreed to complete the cleanup of the Nease Chemical Superfund Site (site) near Salem, Ohio, estimated to cost $18.75 million. The agreement is memorialized in a consent decree lodged in federal court today in Youngstown, Ohio. Under the consent decree, Rutgers also agrees to restore injured natural resources at the site and nearby areas, at a cost of approximately $500,000. Further, Rutgers will reimburse federal and state agencies their past response and assessment costs of about $1 million.
“Today’s consent decree is a significant milestone in our efforts to make the environment cleaner and safer for the citizens of Salem and to protect and restore our valuable natural resources in that region” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “I want to thank our state partners, as well as recognize the cooperation of defendant Rutgers, for joining us on a path forward to clean up the contaminated Nease Site while preserving undeveloped land and protecting local drinking water sources.”
“This agreement will undo the damage done in the past while preserving creeks and the watershed for future generations,” said U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon for the Northern District of Ohio.
“This settlement will protect human health and the environment in northeast Ohio by reducing the risk of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals,” said U.S. EPA Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan. “EPA looks forward to working with our federal and state partners to clean up the site and restore the Little Beaver Creek watershed.”
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking forward to continuing the cleanup and restoration of injured natural resources at the Nease Chemical Site,” said Service Deputy Midwest Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “This settlement enables the Service and other trustees to work together to restore lost resources and protect valuable habitat in the Little Beaver Creek watershed.”
In a complaint filed today simultaneously with the lodging of the consent decree, the federal and state agencies allege that, between 1961 and 1973, portions of the site were owned and operated by a chemical manufacturing plant known as the Nease Chemical Company (Nease Chemical). Nease Chemical produced specialty products including pesticides such as Mirex, a probable human carcinogen no longer produced in the United States. Hazardous substances derived from these specialty products were detected in the soil, ground water, sediments and flood plains/wetlands in the area, as well as in the fish in the nearby main surface water body, the Middle Fork Little Beaver Creek. Rutgers acquired the assets of Nease Chemical, which ceased operations in 1973. Since 1988, Rutgers has cooperated with EPA to investigate and clean up the site.
Under the consent decree, Rutgers will complete EPA’s Operable Unit 2 remedy at the site by, among other things, capping soil and treating the ponds and ground water. Rutgers will also complete EPA’s Operable Unit 3 remedy at the site, by, among other things, removing contaminated sediment and floodplain soil and replacing with clean material. The total cleanup, including long term operations and maintenance, is estimated to cost $18.75 million.
The contamination released from the chemical plant over time has injured natural resources in and around the site, including the underlying groundwater aquifers which have become unusable as a source of potable water. As part of the settlement, Rutgers will remove a low-head dam, known as the Lisbon Dam on the Middle Fork Little Beaver Creek and restore adjacent streamside habitat. Those projects, estimated to cost up to $150,000, are expected to help establish a free-flowing stream with a healthy and diverse fish population.
Rutgers will also fund a $366,000 trust to conserve a variety of lands in the Little Beaver Creek watershed, especially lands that are subject to pressures from new development in the area, to help provide valuable habitat. The trust will also seek to conserve property to protect local drinking water source areas from further contamination.
Further, Rutgers will reimburse the federal and state agencies for their past response and assessment costs, totaling approximately $1 million and agrees to fund all future oversight and assessment costs.
“This settlement will help protect the environment and Ohio families,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “It requires the cleanup of a long-contaminated site and the restoration and preservation of natural resources.”
“About 280-acres of habitat were contaminated by hazardous substances injuring surface and ground waters at the former Nease Chemical site,” said Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler. “Healthy streams and waterways are critical to Ohio’s citizens and our economy. This consent decree is a welcome step forward after many years of work to bring the area stream habitats back to healthy, functioning waterways and protecting drinking water resources into the future.“
Today’s settlement, lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, is subject to a 30-day public comment period following notification in the Federal Register and final approval by the court. To view the consent decree or to submit a comment, visit the department’s website: www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
For more information about the Nease Site: https://cumulis.epa.gov/supercpad/cursites/csitinfo.cfm?id=0504619]