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158 Firms to Foot Bill for Toxic Cleanup

Associated Press

Nearly 160 companies agreed today to spend $19 million on the cleanup of a hazardous waste site in Ohio in one of the largest settlements of its kind negotiated by the government.

At the same time, the Justice Department, saying three federal agencies probably made use of the Hamilton, Ohio, facility that created the hazardous waste problem, agreed to contribute $74,000 to the cleanup effort.

The settlement was contained in a consent decree entered in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati by 158 firms, including some of the nation’s largest chemical manufacturers, and the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The decree will become final after a 30-day public comment period.

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Ohio Gov. Richard F. Celeste told reporters that the settlement is “the very best cleanup to be negotiated under the federal Superfund law. It marks a turning point for the victims. . . , who have had to live for years with the worst toxic dump in Ohio and one of the worst in the nation.”

$4 Million for Surface Cleanup

Under provisions of the decree, 158 companies that had wastes handled by the Hamilton facility will reimburse the federal government $4 million for surface cleanup costs.

They will also pay the state of Ohio $3 million for natural resources damages caused by the hazardous waste site.

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The bulk of the $19-million settlement--$12 million--represents the estimated cost of a 10-year program of cleanup operations at the site, which was operated until 1980 by Chem-Dyne Corp., which has gone out of business.

The firms also will be required “to perform extensive cleanup of chemical contamination of ground water and other work,” said Assistant Atty. Gen. F. Henry Habicht II, who heads the Land and Natural Resources Division.

Among the largest contributors to the Ohio fund under the consent decree are Velsicol Chemical, which will pay $2.34 million; Rohm & Haas, $849,008; Ciba-Geigy Corp., $849,008; FMC Corp., $755,560; Koppers Co., $726,010; Allied Corp., $560,005; and G. D. Searle & Co., $560,005.

Listed by EPA in 1981

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Chem-Dyne began recycling a wide variety of industrial chemical wastes in 1974, the EPA said. By 1976, the firm was storing, recycling and disposing of many hazardous substances, including solvents, pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and waste oils.

In October, 1981, the EPA listed the Hamilton site on its National Priority List of hazardous waste dumps needing “priority long-term cleanup under the federal Superfund program.”

The consent decree also requires the federal government to pay about $74,000 into the settlement package “because three federal agencies were generators of wastes believed to have been taken to the Chem-Dyne site,” it said. The agencies are the EPA, the Air Force and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

The settlement was among the largest obtained by the government.

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On May 20, the government reached a settlement with Westinghouse Electric Corp. requiring the company to spend $75 million to $100 million to clean up six hazardous waste sites in Bloomington, Ind.


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