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Environmental Enforcement: 49 Parties Settle for $1.2m in Casmalia Superfund Case

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today reached a $1.2 million settlement with 49 parties for cleanup costs at the Casmalia Resources Superfund Site in California.

The site is the former Casmalia Resources Hazardous Waste Management Facility, which accepted approximately 5.6 billion pounds of waste from nearly 10,000 different parties between 1973 and 1989. It is located approximately 10 miles southwest of the City of Santa Maria in Santa Barbara County.

Today’s agreement requires the 49 parties to pay a proportionate share of the estimated $284 million total cost of cleaning up the site and resolves their liability for the more than 13 million pounds of waste they collectively sent to the facility.

The settlement includes cleanup costs and potential natural resource damage claims by various government agencies including threats to endangered species and other habitats. The $1.2 million settled on today is equal to approximately nine cents per pound of waste that the parties sent to the site.

“The EPA is committed to making polluters pay their fair share for as long as necessary,” the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific southwest, Jared Blumenfeld, said. “We will continue to reduce environmental threats to the communities and businesses near this Superfund site until we are confident that the job is done.”

The agency assumed the role of the lead regulatory agency in 1992 after the facility’s owners and operators abandoned efforts to clean up the site. The EPA undertook emergency response action activities, while trying to get the facility’s former customers to participate in site work. The site was placed on the National Priorities List in September 2001.

Today’s settlement is the fifth in a series of settlements involving the site and numerous de minimus parties – waste generators that sent relatively small amounts of low-toxicity waste to Casmalia.

Prior de minimus settlements (pdf) include settlements with 430 parties in 1999, 24 parties in 2001, 192 parties in 2004 and two settlement involving over 275 parties in 2005. The EPA also settled with the State of California in 2002, the facility owner/operator in 2002 and other “major” waste generators in 2003.

To date, these settlements have raised more than $110 million toward the site’s cleanup.

In March, the EPA added ten Superfund sites to the National Priorities List, and the agency proposed 15 more additions. The ten new sites took the number of Superfund sites to 1,290.

Superfund sites are eligible for federal investigation and cleanup funds while the EPA seeks to identify parties responsible for the pollution.

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