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Press Release

Court-Ordered Consent Decree Allows for Sale and Redevelopment of Port Jefferson Superfund Site

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Settlement Resolves Environmental Claims Brought By The United States Against Former Aeronautics Industry Manufacturer Lawrence Aviation Industries, Inc. And Its Owner

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced today that the United States District Court has approved a consent decree that ends litigation against Lawrence Aviation Industries, Inc. (LAI) and its former CEO and owner for violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund statute.  The resolution will allow for the redevelopment of the Port Jefferson Station, New York property where LAI operated.

The Superfund statute protects human health and the environment, while safeguarding taxpayer dollars, by holding parties that contributed to contamination responsible for cleaning it up.  Since 1980, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund program has managed the cleanup of the nation’s high-priority hazardous sites and has responded to environmental emergencies, oil spills, and natural disasters.

The LAI Superfund Site includes an area approximately 125 acres in size located off Sheep Pasture Road in Port Jefferson in Suffolk County, New York.  Pursuant to the terms of the Consent Decree, which was approved by United States District Judge Joan M. Azrack, the six parcels comprising the Site will be enhanced in value and sold for redevelopment by a company established by the Suffolk County Landbank Corporation.  The Consent Decree provides that the possible future uses of the property will include a regionally significant infrastructure project and an industrial park.   

“This settlement will enable a previously contaminated property to be put to uses that will benefit Port Jefferson and the greater Suffolk County community,” said United States Attorney Breon Peace.  “In the process, the EPA will recover at least some of the enormous costs expended in remediating the LAI Superfund Site and protecting our environment from hazardous substances.”

Mr. Peace expressed his gratitude to the EPA for its partnership in litigating and resolving the Government’s claims.

“This settlement that will not only recover some of the costs of cleaning up the LAI Superfund site but also pave the way for its redevelopment and revitalization," said Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "This is a win-win situation for the environment and the community of Port Jefferson Station, which will benefit from new infrastructure and economic opportunities long into the future.”

LAI conducted titanium sheet metal manufacturing operations at the Site, mostly for the aeronautics industry, from 1959 to approximately 2004.  The EPA determined that LAI’s operations resulted in releases of a number of hazardous substances and contaminants into the environment, including trichloroethene (TCE), acid wastes, oils, sludge, metals, and other plant wastes.  As a result, the Site was placed on the Superfund National Priorities List  and the EPA has since conducted a number of response actions at the Site. These actions have included construction of treatment systems designed to capture, treat, and prevent further migration of TCE, a known carcinogen, in groundwater beneath the Site. It is the EPA’s intention to treat the groundwater to the point that the water can again be used as part of the drinking water supply. In addition, the EPA has remediated soil at the Site by removing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), another known carcinogen, removed asbestos from buildings at the Site, and installed soil vapor mitigation systems in several nearby locations which are inspected annually.

  In order to recover EPA’s response costs, the United States filed suit against LAI and its owner and CEO, Gerald Cohen, asserting five claims for relief pursuant to CERCLA. See United States v. Lawrence Aviation Industries, Inc, No. CV-06-04818 (JMA).  After trial on the merits, the Court ruled in favor of the Government by Order dated March 19, 2019, finding LAI and Cohen liable to the EPA for $48,116,024.31 in costs and $750,000 each in penalties. The Court also found that the EPA had valid liens on the LAI property. 

Following the trial, the only remaining question was the relative priority of claims of interest filed against the property by other federal agencies, New York State, Suffolk County, and several private parties as well as the EPA. The Consent Decree resolves this remaining issue by allocating recoveries from the sale of the property among the EPA and other claimants.

The case is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Richard K. Hayes, with the assistance of EPA Region 2 attorneys James Doyle, Leilani Davis and Andrea Leshak.  


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass                            
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated July 20, 2023

Consent Decree   [PDF, ]
Environmental Justice