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EPA Announces Settlement with Nearly 500 Potentially Responsible Parties at Plaistow, N.H. Superfund Site

Release Date: 11/15/2001
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, EPA Press Office (617) 918-1013

BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it has reached a settlement with 496 parties who sent hazardous waste to the Beede Waste Oil Superfund site in Plaistow, N.H. in which they will pay more than $1.6 million to help clean up the property and pollution coming from it.

The settlement with these companies or individuals, known as de minimis parties, is based upon the amount of waste each contributed. In each case, the parties contributed no more than 1,000 gallons to the Beede site.

This is EPA's first formal settlement at the 39-acre Beede site. The settlement is a legal agreement called an Administrative Order on Consent and it includes about a quarter of the approximately 2,000 parties notified by EPA in June of their potential liability regarding the Beede site.

This agreement represents one of the largest de minimis settlements ever reached at a Superfund site in New England. Under the federal Superfund law, such a settlement may be offered to parties who contributed minimal amounts of hazardous wastes in volume and toxicity to a site, and only when the settlement involves a minor portion of overall site costs.

"With this important first step, we look forward to securing more settlements in the future and making further progress towards a full site cleanup. This agreement arises out of sound enforcement decision making and strongly supports Superfund reforms that have been widely praised by regulators and those who may be potentially responsible for sending waste to a site," said Ira Leighton, acting deputy regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "The strategy employed at Beede fosters early settlements with small contributors, lower transaction costs, and increased fairness to those who contributed waste by using settlement monies specifically for the Beede cleanup."

EPA plans to negotiate with representatives of the approximately 1,500 other parties who sent waste to the site regarding their responsibility for the cleanup. The top 42 parties, who are responsible for roughly half of the hazardous waste shipped to the Beede site likely will be required to pay the largest portion of the cleanup costs and perform the cleanup itself.

Unlike most de minimis settlements, this one comes very early in the site cleanup process and precedes EPA's announcement of a proposed cleanup plan. A final cleanup decision by EPA is expected sometime next year.

Leighton pointed out that more than half of the de minimis parties to whom EPA extended a settlement offer chose to accept it. For this settlement, EPA targeted the lowest volume de minimis parties, defined as those contributing 276 to 1,000 gallons of hazardous waste to the Site.

Parties contributing less than 276 gallons of hazardous waste are considered de micromis and are not being asked by EPA to help pay for cleanup costs.

Using a novel approach of offering settlement simultaneously with notice of potential liability, EPA afforded very minor waste contributors an immediate opportunity to resolve federal Superfund liability.

By settling, a de minimis party obtains valuable liability releases from EPA. The settlement also secures protection from private party lawsuits under the Superfund law and avoids further expenditures related to legal, financial, technical or other services.

The Beede site is surrounded by residential properties which rely on private well water. No public water supply exists in Plaistow. Beede was open for business from the 1920's until 1994 and housed several operations, including waste oil, and contaminated soil, processing. Beede was listed as a federal Superfund site in 1996. The main contaminants of concern are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), volatile organic compounds, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and lead.

EPA, under a cooperative agreement with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, has been addressing the most obvious contamination at the site such as above- and below-ground waste storage tanks as well as free-floating waste oil in groundwater. To date, EPA has spent about $16 million on Beede. The long-term site cleanup is expected to cost between $30 million and $60 million and take years to finish.

For more information about the site, visit EPA's Web site: http://www.epa.gov/region1/superfund/sites/beede/index.htm