Enforcement

Case Summary: Settlement reached at the Chemetco Superfund Site

On September 13, 2013 a consent decree between EPA, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the State of Illinois, the bankruptcy trustee for the estate of defendant Chemetco, Inc., and Paradigm Minerals and Environmental Services LLC (Paradigm) was approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.

Under the settlement, Paradigm, the trustee and potential purchaser of the site, will implement a Superfund removal action to address existing contamination at the site at an estimated cost of $20 million and cleanup.

The settlement also resolves EPA and Illinois’ consolidated complaint against Chemetco under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Action (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), as well as their bankruptcy proofs of claim.

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Information about Paradigm

Paradigm is a secondary recycling company that processes slag piles, which are waste byproducts of refineries, secondary smelters, and mining sites. The company has developed several processes that extract minerals and non-ferrous metals out of the slag.

Information about the Chemetco Site

The Chemetco Superfund Site is located in Harford, Ill., and was a secondary copper smelting facility which operated from 1970 to 2001. The company owned more than 230 acres of land; however, the smelting operation occupied about 41 acres of the property.  

Additional information about the site is available from the Chemetco Superfund Site web page.

Pollutants and Environmental Effects

On Sept. 18, 1996, Illinois EPA discovered a discharge pipe during an inspection of Chemetco. The pipe appeared to be a 10-inch line and was illegally discharging zinc oxide to a drainage ditch just south of the facility. It is believed this discharge had been going on for 10 years before it was discovered. Samples collected from the outfall area showed high levels of cadmium, copper, lead and zinc. In 2000, the United States obtained a criminal judgement against Chemetco and several of its officers as a consequence of this activity.

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Background Information on Bankruptcy Proceedings

On October 31, 2001, the facility shut down and on November 13, 2001 Chemetco filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. At that time, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Illinois appointed a trustee to oversee the property.

Summary of the Consent Decree

Under the agreement, the Trustee is required to implement a storm water management work plan and site security work plan in performance of the removal action EPA is requiring for the site. The storm water management plan implements a closed loop system which prevents storm water discharges from the site. The security work plan implements security control measures at the Chemetco facility to prevent trespassing, burglary, and theft, and exacerbation of existing contamination at the Site.  Additionally, under the agreement, Paradigm will implement the process work plan, whereby it will process the slag on site to produce metal products or intermediates for resale. All slag processing activities on site are subject to consent decree provisions and EPA oversight to ensure that the processing does not exacerbate environmental conditions at the site.

In this settlement, the Trustee and Paradigm agreed to pay EPA’s oversight costs. In addition, a percentage of the proceeds obtained from the processing operations will be placed into an environmental escrow fund set up to address environmental conditions at the site.

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Contact Information

For further information contact:

Thomas J. Martin
Assistant Regional Counsel
Region 5
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
77 W. Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604-3590
312-886-4273

martin.thomas@epa.gov

David Smith-Watts
Attorney-Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
MC-2272A
Washington, D.C. 20460
202-564-4083
smith-watts.david@epa.gov

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