Justice Department announces settlement for cleaning Georgia superfund site

WASHINGTON, July 30 (UPI) — Companies deemed potentially responsible for decades-long contamination at a saltwater marsh in Georgia came to an agreement for funding more clean-up efforts.

Honeywell International and the Georgia Power Company agreed to a settlement requiring them to spend $28.6 million to remove contaminated sediments and isolate areas of the 760-acre marshland in Brunswick, Georgia, as well as monitor the effectiveness of new clean-up efforts.

The effort will include removing, replacing or containing polluted sediments, dredging and capping four tidal creeks and restoring areas disturbed by construction and demolition over the years. The goal is to reduce concentrations of dangerous chemicals, preventing them from harming animal life or reaching other areas to cause more contamination.

The former LCP Chemicals site, which was home to a petroleum refinery, electric power generation facility and other manufacturing operations, was declared a federal Superfund site in 1996, two years after Honeywell and GPC got involved with work to remediate damage to the area.

The Superfund law, created as part of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act in the 1980s, was created to hold companies involved in contamination responsible for the clean-up of those lands. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency manages the clean-up of hazardous sites once they are added to the Superfund list.

Renewed concern about the LCP Chemicals site has existed since at least mid-2015 when birds as far as 68 miles north and 43 miles south of the site showed levels of aroclor 1268 — a mixture of compounds called polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs — high enough to cause significant defects in offspring.

“Back in the 1990s, this U.S. Attorney’s Office secured criminal convictions against six officers and employees of LCP Chemicals-Georgia Inc. who were responsible for dumping mercury and other hazardous chemicals into the waters of the United States,” U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver, of the Southern District of Georgia, said in a press release. “The combined sentences totaled over 21 years in prison. The cleanup of this Superfund Site is now in its third decade. I am pleased that Honeywell and Georgia Power have stepped forward to continue cleanup as we work towards fixing the environmental mess caused by other companies’ greed many years ago.”

Industrial activities at the site from 1919 to 1994 led to contamination of soil, groundwater, surface water and sediment with mercury, PCBs and other hazardous substances.

Previous clean-up of the site included the demolition of contaminated buildings, dredging and excavation of 13 acres of marsh and removal of soil and waste from upland areas at the site.

The new settlement requires the dredging and installation of protective caps on four tidal creeks, clean sediment being placed on 11 acres of marsh and restoring areas where construction had been done.

“We appreciate that these companies have stepped forward to remedy the contamination to which they and others have contributed,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement makes critical progress toward the remediation of the LCP Chemicals Superfund Site and will minimize risks to people and the environment posed by contamination in the marsh.”

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