Companies Agree To Pay $7.3 Million, Perform Superfund Cleanup

Dravo Corp. (Dravo), Desco Corp. and Desco Corp. d.b.a. Marshalltown Instruments Inc. (Desco) have agreed to perform an interim cleanup action and pay $7.3 million to resolve their liability for certain cleanup costs relating to the contamination of the Colorado Avenue subsite of the Hastings Ground Water Contamination Superfund site, located in south-central Nebraska.

The consent decree, lodged on March 31 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, requires defendants to pay $7.3 million to the federal Hazardous Substances Superfund -- the fund used by the EPA to clean up hazardous waste sites. The defendants also will continue to implement and complete implementation of several components of an interim remedy for the Colorado Avenue subsite and pay EPA's costs of oversight.

This settlement concludes a lawsuit that alleged that the defendants were liable for EPA's costs for investigative and cleanup actions in response to hazardous substance contamination of soils and groundwater. The contamination was allegedly caused by a manufacturing facility formerly owned and operated by Dravo and later Desco. Under this settlement and earlier enforcement actions, parties responsible for the pollution at the Colorado Avenue subsite have contributed a total of approximately $15.8 million in cleanup work and cash reimbursement.

"This action demonstrates the Justice Department's commitment to ensuring that companies that contribute to the creation of hazardous waste sites take responsibility for their cleanup," said Assistant Attorney General Sue Ellen Wooldridge, of the U.S. Justice Department's (DOJ) Environment and Natural Resources Division. "(This) settlement represents an appropriate contribution by these parties toward the site cleanup costs."

"This settlement marks continued progress in cleaning up the Colorado Avenue subsite, leading to restoration of the groundwater and future reuse of this property," said Cecilia Tapia, Superfund division director, EPA Region 7.

The Colorado Avenue subsite facility is one of six subsites of the Hastings Ground Water Contamination Superfund site. The Hastings site, located in and around the city of Hastings, was discovered in 1983 after investigations were conducted into the source of bad taste and odor of drinking water that had been reported by citizens. The investigations revealed the presence of trichloroethylene (TCE), tetrachloroethene (PCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), all hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA -- the Superfund law), in the groundwater. EPA began investigations in 1984 and over the span of several years, was able to identify numerous sources of contamination based on sampling results and historical practices during decades of industrial activity. EPA assigned each of these sources a subsite name (North Landfill, South Landfill, Colorado Avenue, Well No. 3, FAR-MAR-CO, Second Street, and the former Naval Ammunition Depot or NAD).

The manufacturing facility at 108 S. Colorado Ave., operated by Dravo from the 1960s until 1982 and by Desco from the 1980s until 2000, used TCE and TCA solvents in a vapor degreaser used to clean equipment. The manufacturing facility released TCE and TCA into the soils at the Colorado Avenue subsite through discharges of vapor degreasing solvents into the storm and sanitary sewers at the subsite.

EPA placed the Hastings site on its list of the nation's worst Superfund sites -- the National Priorities List -- in 1986. EPA's investigations between 1986 and 1989 confirmed that over the course of nearly 40 years, industrial plant operations at 108 S. Colorado Ave. have caused the Colorado Avenue subsite soils and groundwater to become contaminated by solvents used to clean equipment at the facility, including TCE, TCA, and PCE (a contaminant often found in TCE). In 1988, EPA selected and proposed an interim cleanup plan for soils at the Colorado Avenue subsite. An interim cleanup plan for groundwater contamination at the subsite was selected and proposed by EPA in 1991.

The remedy addressed by this settlement is an interim remedy. After the interim action cleanup level for groundwater is achieved, EPA will issue a final record of decision selecting a final remedy for the Colorado Avenue subsite.

Notice of the settlement will be published in the Federal Register, followed by a 30 day public comment period, before the settlement will become final.

A copy of the consent decree is available on DOJ's Web site at

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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