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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, August 15, 2016

United States Announces Superfund Settlement To Protect Vital Drinking Water Source At The Fulton Avenue Superfund Site Located In Central Nassau County, New York

Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Judith A. Enck, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, today announced that Genesco Inc. has agreed to clean up contaminated drinking water at the Fulton Avenue Superfund Site (the Site) in the Towns of Hempstead and North Hempstead, New York.  The settlement, which is valued at no less than $5.25 million, requires Genesco to ensure the operation and maintenance of water treatment and indoor air treatment systems at the Site, and to monitor groundwater and indoor air contamination at the Site. Genesco will also reimburse EPA for costs incurred in overseeing the work required by the settlement. 

The settlement, which was entered on August 15, 2016 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York, in an action brought against Genesco pursuant to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund statute.  The Superfund law protects human health and the environment while safeguarding taxpayer dollars by holding parties that contributed to contamination responsible for cleaning it up.  Since 1980, EPA’s 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 Site in this case includes a 0.8-acre commercial facility at 150 Fulton Avenue in Garden City Park, New York (the Fulton Property), which from approximately 1965 to 1974, contained a fabric-cutting mill that was owned or operated by Genesco.  The mill cut and processed knitted fabrics, which were then dry-cleaned with tetrachloroethylene (commonly known as perc), which was disposed of into the environment during the mill’s operations.   As a result of these past disposal practices, perc contaminated soil, air and groundwater at the Site.  EPA has classified perc as likely to be carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure.  Chronic (or long-term) exposure to perc can also cause adverse neurological effects, including impaired cognitive and motor neurobehavioral performance, and may also cause adverse effects in the kidney, liver, immune system, hematologic system, and on development and reproduction.

Groundwater contamination at the site and has impacted two public water supply wells, known as Garden City Water District wells 13 and 14.  Currently, the groundwater entering those wells is treated using an air stripper installed and operated by the Village of Garden City, which forces air through groundwater to remove harmful chemicals, such as perc.  The settlement requires, among other things, that Genesco continue the operation and maintenance of the existing treatment systems for the two wells until remedial goals are met.  The settlement also requires Genesco to monitor contaminant levels in groundwater at the Site, and to pay EPA’s costs of evaluating chemical vapors that may enter buildings near the Fulton Property.   The operation and maintenance of an existing sub-slab ventilation system at the Fulton Property will continue.  EPA will oversee Genesco’s work, which implements the cleanup remedy selected in the agency’s 2015 Record of Decision Amendment for the Fulton Avenue Superfund Site. 

“This settlement reinforces this Office’s firm commitment to eliminating the hazards posed by sites that threaten public health and safety,@ stated United States Attorney Capers. “We will continue to hold accountable those responsible for causing or contributing to hazardous substance sites.”

“Residents of Long Island rely on groundwater as their source of drinking water, so it is critical that groundwater resources be protected from toxic contamination,” said EPA Regional Administrator Enck.  “The EPA will keep working to protect residents of Long Island from the threats of polluted groundwater.”

The settlement was subject to a 30-day public comment period during which no comments were received.

The lead government attorneys for this settlement are Assistant United States Attorney Robert B. Kambic and Assistant Regional Counsel Douglas L. Fischer of EPA.

Defendant:

GENESCO INC.
1415 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, Tennessee

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 09-CV-3917

Topic(s): 
Environment
Updated August 15, 2016