The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. EPA have announced a major settlement that requires NCR Corporation to complete the cleanup projects at Wisconsin’s Lower Fox River and Green Bay Site.
An enormous amount of cleanup and natural resource restoration work has already been done in the area under a set of partial settlements, an EPA administrative cleanup order, and court orders in a federal lawsuit brought by the United States and the State of Wisconsin, according to the Department of Justice.
The final phase of cleanup taken on by NCR will cost up to $200 million or more over the next few years. The total cleanup costs for the Fox River Site will exceed $1 billion.
The cleanup work will reduce the risks to humans and wildlife posed by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in bottom sediment of the Fox River and Green Bay, the Department of Justice said in its release.
“After years of hard fought litigation, this settlement requires NCR to take full responsibility for completing this important cleanup effort,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Lawsuits and settlements like this vindicate the principle that polluters should pay the cost of Superfund cleanups, rather than the taxpayers. And, we are pleased that our co-plaintiff, the state of Wisconsin, is also a key part of this settlement.”
“Fox River is a treasure – and it’s been polluted for too long. People should be able to swim, boat, and eat fish from all parts of the river,” said Acting EPA Region 5 Administrator Robert A. Kaplan. “This cleanup will ensure that PCB levels continue to reduce downstream as they have upstream.”
The cleanup remedy for the Fox River Site was jointly-selected by EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The remedy will remove much of the PCB-containing sediment from the Fox River by dredging. In other portions of the River, contaminated sediment is being contained in place with specially-engineered caps.
The dredging and capping will reduce PCB exposure and greatly diminish downstream migration of PCBs to Green Bay. The sediment cleanup began in the uppermost segment of the River in 2004.
Under this settlement, NCR has committed to complete the final phase of remediation by the end of 2018.