Nearly two dozen companies will pay more than $40 million to clean up a superfund site in Rhode Island after disposing hazardous waste at the site, which environmental regulators say contaminated the soil, groundwater and surface water.
The agreement, lodged in federal court in Providence, resolves federal and state liability claims against nearly 100 potentially responsible parties for the cleanup of the Peterson/Puritan, Inc. Superfund Site in Cumberland and Lincoln, Rhode Island.
Under the settlement, 22 of the settling defendants will be responsible for paying for an implementing the cleanup plan selected by EPA in 2015. It includes excavation and consolidation of contaminated soils and sediments, construction of a multi-layered impermeable cap, institutional controls and long term monitoring. The EPA estimated the total cost to be $40.3 million.
The settling defendants responsible for the cleanup include: ACS Industries, Alcoa, Avnet, Clean Harbors, Costa, Cumberland Engineering Corp., CVS Pharmacy, General Cable Industries, Hindley Manufacturing Co., Hollingsworth & Vose Co., International Paper Co.; KIK Custom Products, Philips Electronics North America Corp., Sears Roebuck & Co., Shawmut Corp., Supervalu Holdings, Teknor Apex Co., Texas Instruments, The Narragansett Electric Co., The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., Waste Management of Massachusetts, Waste Management Disposal Services of Massachusetts, Waste Management of Rhode Island and Wyman-Gordon Co.
The remaining settling parties are required to make payments to a trust to be used to help pay for performance of the site cleanup.
The area being cleaned, called Operable Unit Two, is located adjacent to the Blackstone River and contains many parcels within the Blackstone River floodplain. These parcels include the J.M. Mills Landfill, the former Nunes transfer station, and an unnamed island, all of which contain waste material.
These parcels were owned and operated as a single landfill operation by Joseph and Linda Marszalkowski through their business J.M. Mills.
The EPA says disposal activities took place from about 1954 to the late 1980s during which assorted hazardous wastes and hazardous substances — more than 2.1 million cubic yards in total — were disposed of at the site.
More than 850 Superfund sites nationwide have some type of actual or planned reuse underway, according to the EPA. Cleanups at these sites increase tax revenue and create jobs during and after cleanup.
In a recent study, the EPA reviewed 454 Superfund sites supporting use or reuse activities. It found at the end of fiscal year 2015 that these sites had about 3,900 businesses with 108,000 employees and annual sales of more than $29 billion.
Similarly, a study on property values close to brownfield sites in Youngstown, Ohio, found that cleaning up the contaminated resulted in an increase in the selling price of nearby properties by 18 percent over a five-year period. The study also found that the property values adjacent to brownfield sites that had not been remediated were 66 percent lower than properties one mile away.
Recent EPA guidance on Consideration of Greener Cleanup Activities in the Superfund Cleanup Process can help site owners achieve economic benefits through environmentally responsible cleanups. It follows an updated version of ASTM International’s Standard Guide for Greener Cleanups. The standard reflects EPA’s Greener Cleanup Principles, including the goal of minimizing water use and impacts to water resources, and the agency encourages its use at cleanup sites.