United States Files Civil Complaint against Two Companies for Environmental Cleanup Cost of Nassau County Superfund Site
The United States filed a civil complaint today in federal court in Brooklyn against IMC Eastern Corporation (“IMC”) and Island Transportation Corporation (“ITC”), seeking to recover the costs associated with the investigation and cleanup of groundwater contamination at the New Cassel/Hicksville Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site (“the Site”) in the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay, in Nassau County, New York. The Site is approximately 6.5 square miles and includes residential, commercial and industrial areas.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Peter D. Lopez, Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2 (EPA), announced the filing.
“Maintaining the safety of public water supply wells is essential to the health and well-being of our communities,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Today’s filing serves as a warning to those who pollute our environment but refuse to take financial responsibility for their actions. This Office will seek the recovery of costs, and civil monetary penalties where appropriate, from those who cause or contribute to environmental contamination.”
“Superfund is a cornerstone of EPA’s core mission. This action is necessary to advance cleanup efforts and protect public health,” stated EPA Regional Administrator Lopez. “The Superfund program is intended to make sure that those who contributed to contamination help pay for its cleanup. Simply stated, the complaint will help EPA seek reimbursement from the responsible parties for the taxpayer money it spent investigating the site.”
According to the complaint, IMC and ITC operated facilities within the New Cassel Industrial Area, an approximately 170-acre industrial and commercial area located north (hydrologically upgradient) of the part of the Site designated by EPA as Operable Unit 1 (OU1). Specifically, IMC was a tenant at 570 Main Street, and ITC was a tenant at 299 Main Street, both located in Westbury, New York.
As alleged, IMC and ITC used hazardous substances called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in connection with their businesses. These hazardous substances, which include tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), were released at IMC’s and ITC’s facilities and have migrated south (hydrologically downgradient) of these facilities, impacting Long Island’s sole source drinking water aquifer. Exposure to high levels of VOCs such as PCE, TCE, and 1,1,1-TCA can cause a variety of adverse human health effects, such as damage to the nervous system, liver, kidneys, and reproductive system. VOCs may also be harmful to unborn children and are considered possible carcinogens. Consistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act that protects public drinking water supplies throughout the nation, the public water suppliers in the area of the Site monitor water quality regularly and have previously installed treatment systems to remove VOCs from groundwater prior to distribution to the public.
From 1953 through March 1992, IMC manufactured and sold motors and air movers, and used PCE, TCE, and 1,1,1-TCA in its manufacturing processes. Soil and sediment sampling conducted in 1993, and groundwater sampling conducted in 1998 and 1999, each revealed VOC contamination, including PCE, TCE, and 1,1,1-TCA, at the 570 Main Street property. From at least 1971 to 1979, ITC used its facility to wash and repair its trucks and to refuel them with gasoline. ITC used TCE as part of its truck maintenance activities. Groundwater sampling conducted in 2000, and soil sampling conducted in 2001, each revealed TCE contamination at the 299 Main Street property.
According to the complaint, contamination from defendants’ respective properties contributed to the groundwater contamination at the OU1 portion of the Site.
The complaint asserts claims under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the Superfund statute. 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, 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 government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Division. Assistant United States Attorney Alex S. Weinberg is in charge of the litigation with assistance from Sharon Kivowitz, Assistant Regional Counsel, EPA Region 2.
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CV-3818