Cleanup Cost for Idaho Superfund Site Set at $12 M

Two companies and the city of St. Maries, Idaho, have agreed to clean up a Superfund site in St. Maries at a cost estimated more than $12 million, the Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced on Nov. 10.

Carney Products Co. Ltd., the general partners of B.J. Carney & Co. LP, along with the city have agreed to clean up the St. Maries Creosote Superfund site in a settlement agreement filed in federal court in Boise, Idaho.

The site, a former wooden utility pole treatment plant, is located along the banks of the St. Joe River on the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe reservation. The tribe joined with the federal government in signing the settlement.

"Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to make sure that parties responsible for Superfund sites foot the bill for cleaning the pollution," said John C. Cruden, acting assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We are pleased to reach this agreement with the city and these two companies which will ultimately result in the cleanup of contamination on private land and in the St. Joe River within the Coeur d’ Alene Tribe reservation."

"This is good news for both the community and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe," said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator in Seattle. "With this agreement, we are another step closer to finishing the cleanup and putting the land back into productive use. It's a ‘win’ for the local economy, public health and the environment."

According to a complaint filed simultaneously with the agreement, the United States alleged that the three entities were responsible under the Superfund law to clean up the site according to EPA's plan announced in July 2007. The agreement that resolves the complaint also includes a payment to the United States of $555,951.23 for EPA's past clean up and oversight costs, and a $5,000 payment to the tribe for its past oversight costs. The tribe also will be able to review, inspect and comment on the plans and work being completed at the site.

B.J. Carney & Co. owned the now-defunct plant from 1960 through the early 1980s, demolishing site structures and re-grading contaminated soil from 1960 through 1965. Although the creosote operation ended, and B.J. Carney & Co. sold its interests to Carney Products, Ltd., from 1982 until 2003 Carney Products peeled, sorted, and stored poles at the facility. The creosote operation and demolition process polluted the land, river bank and river sediments.

EPA's cleanup plan calls for excavation and thermal treatment of more than 70,000 cubic yards of creosote-contaminated soil and river sediment. During the thermal treatment, the contaminated soils and sediments will be heated to a temperature that turns the contaminants into gas and thereby removes the contaminants.

The settlement includes provisions that will provide additional assurance of the responsible parties' obligations. The responsible parties entered into a confidential guarantee agreement under which an environmental engineering company guarantees that it will complete essentially all of the cleanup work. The engineering company has signed and will be bound by the consent decree. The responsible parties remain obligated to complete the work should the engineering company fail to do so.

The consent decree, which was filed in U.S. District Court in for the District of Idaho, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court.

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