First Non-liable Party Agreement for Superfund Site Cleanup Proposed

On June 2, EPA announced that the first-ever agreement in the nation by a non-liable party to clean up a Superfund site has been proposed by the agency and Clinton Gregg Investments, L.P., for the Many Diversified Interests Inc. (MDI) site near downtown Houston. Clinton Gregg Investments, L.P., plans to purchase the 36-acre property for redevelopment.

According to agency officials, this agreement will save EPA $6.6 million, since there are no potentially responsible parties available to perform or fund on-site cleanup of lead-contaminated soil. The agreement provides protections for the buyer for doing a cleanup of hazardous materials. It assures EPA that the buyer has sufficient funds to complete the cleanup and pay for EPA's oversight costs. The agreement also allows EPA to take over the work and collect stipulated penalties if EPA determines that the work is not being done properly.

"Getting properties back into productive use is one of our highest priorities," EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. "Finding new ways to encourage redevelopment, strengthen communities and energize growth creates a proud legacy for everyone."

The property has been used as an industrial site since at least 1926 and was the location of a metal casting foundry. The property owner, MDI, filed for bankruptcy in 1994. The site was added to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1999. EPA has spent $4.4 million to clean up about 60 nearby residential properties contaminated from activities at the site.

In October 2003 the Bankruptcy Trustee filed a notice seeking approval for the sale of the MDI property through a public auction. A prospective buyer expressed interest in doing the cleanup work on behalf of EPA as part of the purchase price. In order to make the sale of the MDI property a fair process, EPA created a draft agreement into which any interested buyer could enter and bid for the MDI site by offering to do the work. The MDI property was auctioned on April 22, 2005. The winning bidder was Clinton Gregg Investments, L.P., with a bid of $7.8 million, $6.6 million of which will be paid either in cash or in performance of the remedy.

EPA will accept public comment on the proposed agreement through July 3, 2006, under the process published in a Federal Register notice at http://www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-WASTE. A copy of the agreement is available at http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6xa/pdf/mdi_agreed_order.pdf. For more information about the MDI site, visit http://www.epa.gov/earth1r6/6sf/pdffiles/0605008.pdf.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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