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NATRONA., Pa. - Allegheny Ludlum Corp. and the U.S. have settled the government’s complaint that the Pittsburgh-based company unreasonably delayed cleanup activities at a Superfund site in western Pennsylvania, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department announced today.
In papers filed in federal district court in Pittsburgh, the company agreed to pay a penalty of $150,000 to resolve the lawsuit over the company’s six-month refusal to grant EPA access to a half-acre parcel adjacent to the Lindane Dump Superfund Site in Natrona, Harrison Township, Allegheny Co., Pa.
"This was an unnecessary dispute over a necessary part of this cleanup. I hope this case sends the message that those who unreasonably block access needed for Superfund cleanups will pay a price for their recalcitrance," said EPA Regional Administrator W. Michael McCabe.
Allegheny Teledyne (the corporate successor to Allegheny Ludlum) is the current owner of the disputed parcel, as well as 47.5 acres of the 61.8 acre Lindane Dump site, which is located about 20 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. Under a June 1993 consent decree, Elf Atochem North America, Inc. (the corporate successor of former site owner Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Co.) agreed to complete an EPA-approved cleanup plan for the site. The cleanup may cost up to $15 million to complete, EPA estimates.
Under this cleanup plan, Elf Atochem is required to upgrade its existing system for the collection and treatment of leachate (i.e., groundwater and precipitation-runoff contaminated by hazardous substances), and maintain this system for at least 30 years. According to Elf Atochem and EPA experts, the site’s hydrogeology, steep topography, and multi-layer soil and clay cap over the landfill required that the upgraded system be constructed on a half-acre parcel adjacent to the site. This property is located between Karns Road and the Allegheny River.
According to the government, for several months in late 1995 and early 1996, Allegheny Ludlum repeatedly refused Elf Atochem’s requests for an appropriate access agreement to this property. On May 23, 1996, after Allegheny Ludlum’s refusal delayed the ongoing cleanup efforts at the site, EPA ordered the company to provide EPA and Elf Atochem with access to the parcel, and to allow construction and maintenance of the leachate collection and treatment system. The Superfund statute authorizes EPA access to property needed to carry out cleanups of hazardous substances.
Allegheny Ludlum responded by suing the U.S. and Elf Atochem, requesting a court ruling barring block enforcement of EPA’s access order. Ultimately, in November 1996, Allegheny Ludlum granted short-term access to the property and, in February 1997, signed a long-term lease agreement with Elf Atochem for use of the property. On January 1997, the U.S. filed a complaint against Allegheny Ludlum, seeking a civil penalty for the company’s delay in complying with EPA’s reasonable access order.
In the settlement announced today, the parties agreed to the dismissal of both lawsuits.