Source: http://blogs.courier-journal.com, February 6, 2014
By: James Bruggers
Two sites in Kentucky are part of a $63 million bankruptcy settlement involving W.R. Grace & Co, based in Columbia, Md., and the U.S. government, over environmental claims.
In all, the settlement involves 39 sites in 21 states.
“Cleaning up toxic pollution in communities is the responsibility of the company that created it, not the American taxpayer,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a written statement. “This money will be used to clean up contaminated sites and to make a tangible difference for local communities across the country.”
The two Kentucky facilities:
– According to the EPA, Green River Disposal, Inc., disposed of Grace and other company’s waste on Kelly Cemetery Road in a rural area in east Daviess County near Maceo, Kentucky, from 1970-84.
– A Grace plant in Wilder, Ky, received vermiculite from the mine in Libby, Mont. for three decades, ending in 1992, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry.
According to reporting done by Carly Flandro for the project Grace Case by the University of Montana scho0ls of law and journalism, “Grace’s Zonolite Co. Wilders plant operated for 40 years, from 1952 to 1992:
In that time, approximately 220,000 tons of Libby vermiculite was processed. An average of 16 people worked there, handling vermiculite that the federal government now knows was “contaminated with asbestos.”
Grace, a global supplier of specialty chemicals, and 61 affiliated companies, filed for bankruptcy in April 2001, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2003, EPA filed claims against the company to recover past and future cleanup costs at sites contaminated by asbestos and other hazardous substances.
A separate June 2008 settlement covered issues in Libby, including a payment of $250 million to EPA. The company continues to be responsible for addressing cleanup at the Libby Mine, according to EPA. There, people have been dying for years with an epidemic of lung cancer.
EPA said it would use its portion of the settlement, $52 million, to reimburse expenses it had cleaning up the sites or doing new cleanup work at them.
The announcement made earlier this week follows other news that a Grace reorganization plan was allowing the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to the Washington Post:
The reorganization plan establishes two trusts worth $4 billion to compensate victims and property owners exposed to asbestos. The funds will come from a number of sources, including cash, warrants to buy Grace common stock, deferred-payment obligations, insurance proceeds and payments from former affiliates — companies that were owned by Grace but that have been sold.