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EPA Recovers A Quarter Million Dollars In Cleanup Costs at H.M. Quackenbush Site in Herkimer, N.Y., After EPA Removed Tons of Toxic Waste and Sludge

Release Date: 08/16/2010
Contact Information: Contact (News Media Only): John Senn, (212) 637-3667, senn.john@epa.gov

(New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Frederick H. Hager, the former Chief Executive Officer, Chairman and majority shareholder of H.M. Quackenbush, Inc. for EPA’s cleanup work at the H.M. Quackenbush Superfund site in the Village of Herkimer, New York. The 1.5-acre property was a manufacturing and metal plating factory between 1874 and 2005. In 2006, EPA removed and disposed of hazardous substances that remained on the property. Under the settlement, Mr. Hager is paying EPA $225,000 plus interest, which represents a portion of what EPA spent to conduct cleanup work at the site. The amount reflects Mr. Hager’s ability to pay.

“This financial settlement illustrates the strength of our Superfund program and the requirement that the polluter pays,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “Using money from the Superfund program, EPA took action, and completed and paid for this cleanup in 2006. We then took steps to recover as much money as possible from the part this is responsible for the pollution. This approach allows for a quicker and saves tax dollars.”

EPA removed the worst of the contamination and addressed any immediate threats. Under a related settlement which EPA helped facilitate, Mr. Hager also resolved his potential liability to the Village of Herkimer for other contamination remaining at the site which EPA did not address under the Superfund removal program through the payment of $75,000 into an escrow account to be used for the Village's cleanup work at the H.M. Quackenbush site. The Village, which has been coordinating with the Universal Brownfield Revitalization Corporation from Syracuse, plans to seek state Brownfields funding to redevelop the property. EPA’s total cleanup costs for the site are $1.7 million.

In June 2010, EPA also recovered approximately $137,000 in the bankruptcy action filed by H.M. Quackenbush in 2005, in which EPA was represented by the Department of Justice.

In April 2006, EPA completed the cleanup work at the site, which included disposal of all liquid and sludge waste, including 86 tons of waste sludge; 9,500 gallons of waste sludge; 17,340 gallons of waste cyanide liquids; 3,355 gallons of waste acids; 4,019 gallons of waste plating liquids; 5,500 gallons of acid oxidizers; 2,200 gallons of base oxidizers, 100 tons of miscellaneous hazardous solid materials and 4,959 gallons of miscellaneous liquid hazardous materials.

The H.M. Quackenbush site is a former manufacturing and plating factory that used various hazardous substances in different plating bath solutions, including acids, bases, and cyanides to plate guns, bicycles and nutcrackers. The property is located in the downtown residential and commercial area of the Village. In March 2005, H.M. Quackenbush and affiliated companies filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, intending to reorganize. In July 2005, after a court ordered auction, the bankruptcy court approved the sale of its assets. Because of the failure to identify a buyer for the company, there were not enough funds for the company to continue operating. That month, the company stopped manufacturing and abandoned the property, taking no steps to address the hazardous materials left behind, which included 80 tons of hazardous waste sludge that had been accumulating since late 2004.

At the request of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, EPA conducted a removal assessment on August 17, 2005, and that same day began a removal action under Superfund to address the large quantities of hazardous substances, including deteriorated containers that were releasing hazardous substances at the abandoned factory.

For a Google Earth aerial view of the H.M. Quackenbush site, go to: http://www.epa.gov/region2/kml/hm_quackenbush.kml. (You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the map. To download Google Earth, visit http://earth.google.com/download-earth.html).

For more information on EPA’s Superfund program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/region02/superfund/.

Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/eparegion2.

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