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Times Beach Settlement Reached
A settlement has been reached in the lawsuit concerning the cleanup of Times Beach and other dioxin-contaminated sites in eastern Missouri.
The consent decree between the United States, the State of Missouri, and the Syntex entities implements the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Record of Decision, which was issued September 29, 1988. This decision calls for incineration at Times Beach of dioxin-contaminated soils from 28 sites, including Times Beach, in eastern Missouri. Times Beach has been a ghost town since 1983, when it was purchased by the State of Missouri, using Superfund monies.
Morris Kay, EPA Region 7 Administrator, said, "The settlement with Syntex will result in the permanent destruction of dioxin and the return of Times Beach to beneficial use. The Bush Administration has taken a strong enforcement stance to assure that private parties potentially responsible for environmental problems are held accountable for the cleanup. The agreement announced today underscores our commitment. The Department of Justice, EPA and the State of Missouri believe the Record of Decision sets forth a safe and effective plan for the comprehensive cleanup of the dioxin-contaminated sites in eastern Missouri. EPA is committed to continue pursuing the remaining potentially responsible parties and to assure implementation of the remedy as outlined by the Record of Decision."
The agreement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, calls for Syntex to implement the remedy set forth in EPA's Record of Decision.
Syntex will demolish and dispose of non-contaminated structures and debris in uncontaminated areas of Times Beach. That activity is scheduled to begin after the consent decree is entered by the court.
Syntex also agreed to design and construct an incinerator at Times Beach to destroy all dioxin-contaminated soils from the 28 sites in eastern Missouri. At the conclusion of the incineration project, Syntex agrees to dismantle the incinerator and ancillary buildings, remove them from Times Beach and restore the area. The Record of Decision estimates that the work will take five to seven years. Syntex also agreed to reimburse the United States for a part of the government's costs by paying $10 million.
EPA Administrator William Reilly commented on the settlement: "This Administration has redirected Superfund emphasis toward an 'Enforcement First' program to encourage private parties to clean up contaminated sites. The announcement today exemplifies this approach. Last fiscal year, the government reached 49 settlements with potentially responsible parties, a 53 percent increase over the previous. Last year's settlements were estimated to be worth $620 million. We are very serious about enforcement of cleanups under Superfund."
According to the Record of Decision, incineration is the only proven method of permanent dioxin destruction. The thermal treatment facility at Times Beach will be temporary, treating contaminated soils from the 28 dioxin sites in eastern Missouri only. Once the dioxin cleanup is completed, the thermal treatment facility will be removed.
There will be a 30-day public comment period on the consent decree.