United States Recovers Over $1.4 Million From Four Additional Responsible Parties For The Release Of Mercury In The Village Of Rye Brook
Defendants Agree to Pay $1,412,255 in Clean-up Costs and Accept Responsibility in Consent Decree
Audrey Strauss, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Walter Mugdan, Acting Regional Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), announced today that the United States has filed a civil lawsuit against E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS AND COMPANY (“DuPont”), D & D SALVAGE CORPORATION (“D & D”), OXY USA INC. (“Oxy”), and W.A. BAUM COMPANY, INC. (“W.A. Baum”) (collectively, the “Defendants”), and has simultaneously filed a consent decree settling the lawsuit. In the complaint, brought pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 9601-9675 (“CERCLA”) – commonly known as the Superfund statute – the United States alleged that the Defendants arranged for the disposal or treatment of mercury by Port Refinery, Inc. (“Port Refinery”), a mercury refining business in the Village of Rye Brook, New York, which led to releases of mercury into the environment. The consent decree provides for a combined payment of $1,412,255 by the Defendants for costs incurred by EPA in conducting clean-up activities at the site.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “DuPont, D & D, Oxy, and W.A. Baum contributed to contamination in a residential community by arranging for the treatment or disposal of over 7,000 pounds of toxic mercury, and now each is paying a share of the costs that EPA had to incur to clean up this site. This Office will continue to hold responsible parties accountable for their share of the costs at the site.”
EPA Acting Regional Administrator Walter Mugdan said: “EPA is recovering more than $1.4 million that the Agency spent to clean up mercury pollution released in the Village of Rye Brook, and that is good news for taxpayers as we are holding the polluter responsible for the cost. The funds can be put back into the Superfund to assist with cleanup of other sites. This case shows that EPA can take immediate action to protect people while still holding polluters responsible by recovering some of the money down the road. We don’t have to choose between protecting people and taking appropriate legal action – they go hand-in-hand.”
As alleged in the complaint filed yesterday in White Plains federal District Court, each of the Defendants arranged for Port Refinery’s treatment or disposal of used, surplus, or scrap mercury and mercury-containing materials at the Site. Port Refinery’s treatment and processing of mercury sent by the Defendants and other parties led to extensive releases of mercury into the environment, necessitating two separate clean-up actions by EPA. In connection with the second clean-up, EPA incurred costs at the Site for investigative and removal activities, including, among other things, excavating and disposing of more than 9,300 tons of mercury-contaminated soil from the site.
In the consent decree filed yesterday, the Defendants admit and accept responsibility for the following:
- EPA has determined that from the 1970s through the early 1990s, Port Refinery engaged in, among other things, the business of mercury reclaiming, refining, and processing.
- Port Refinery operated in the Village of Rye Brook out of a two-story garage bordered by private residences on its south, east, and west sides.
- EPA has determined that Port Refinery took virtually no environmental precautions or safety measures during its mercury refinement process.
- EPA has determined that Port Refinery released a significant amount of mercury into the environment, contaminating the Site.
- EPA has determined that mercury from the Defendants’ mercury-containing products was comingled at the Site and contributed to the mercury released into the environment.
Moreover, in the consent decree each Defendant admits and accepts responsibility for directly or indirectly delivering mercury to Port Refinery as follows:
- DuPont delivered 3,291 pounds of mercury, which included virgin, unused, scrap, used, and contaminated mercury, to Port Refinery during Port Refinery’s period of operations.
- D & D delivered 2,150 pounds of scrap mercury to Port Refinery during Port Refinery’s period of operations.
- Oxy sold 190 pounds of surplus mercury and mercury-containing materials to a third-party scrap dealer during Port Refinery’s period of operations, and EPA has determined that those surplus mercury and mercury-containing materials came to be located at the Site.
- W.A. Baum delivered 1,425 pounds of “dirty” mercury to Port Refinery during Port Refinery’s period of operations.
Pursuant to the consent decree, the Defendants will pay a total of $1,412,255 in costs incurred by EPA, consisting of $658,639 to be paid by DuPont, $430,352 to be paid by D & D, $38,031 to be paid by Oxy, and $285,233 to be paid by W.A. Baum.
This lawsuit is the United States’ sixth lawsuit against responsible parties to recover clean-up costs for the second clean-up at the Site. With this settlement, the United States has recovered a total of $2,382,137 from responsible parties.
The consent decree will be lodged with the District Court for a period of at least 30 days before it is submitted for the Court’s approval, to provide public notice and to afford members of the public the opportunity to comment on the consent decree.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Environmental Protection Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony J. Sun is in charge of the case.