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UNION TOWNSHIP, Pa. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has reached a settlement with 34 parties in the Keystone Sanitation Landfill Superfund Litigation.
In settlement papers filed in the federal district court in Harrisburg by the U.S. Department of Justice, the government agreed to settle the liability of these parties for a nominal $1.00 sum. The government reached these 'de micromis' settlements after EPA determined that the settling parties were responsible for only a minuscule amount of the hazardous waste contamination at the Adams County landfill.
The proposed settlement is subject to public comment and final court approval.
The 34 settling defendants were not sued by the United States, but are third and fourth-party defendants brought into the case by other defendants. Today’s settlement brings to 577 the number of third and fourth-party claims settled by the U.S. in the Keystone case, after settlements with 167 parties in April and May 1996 and an October 1997 settlement with 376 other third and fourth parties.
Settling out these smaller claims, EPA believes, will expedite the litigation over hazardous waste cleanup costs, while protecting individuals and small businesses from unnecessary litigation and legal costs. If approved by the court, today’s settlement will shield the de micromis parties from claims by the remaining defendants.
Under Superfund law, the EPA may sue the major parties responsible for hazardous waste contamination to recoup cleanup costs. However, those parties may sue smaller third parties, who in turn may sue fourth parties, to reduce their own liabilities.