Court Allows $4.3M Settlement for Indiana Scrap Yard

A federal Judge in Indiana on Sept. 21 approved a $4.3 million settlement agreement, ending three years of environmental litigation over cleanup costs for two Evansville sites contaminated with lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), according to a press release from the litigant's lawyers.

The Evansville Greenway & Remediation Trust filed a lawsuit in 2007 against Southern Indiana Gas & Electric Company (SIGECO), Heritage Coal; Mead Johnson Co., Black Beauty Coal; Squaw Creek Coal, and Mulzer Crushed Stone under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and Indiana’s Environmental Legal Action statute seeking cleanup costs for polluted scrap yards owned by General Waste Products, Inc.

Indianapolis attorney Michael O. Nelson of Hunsucker Goodstein & Nelson PC, which represented the Trust, said, “This settlement demonstrates that contaminated eyesores can be transformed into safe, beautiful public parks and productive commercial properties through hard work, perseverance and cooperation.”

Michael D. Goodstein, of the firm's Washington, DC office, noted, “The settlement was made possible after the court found SIGECO liable, but left for trial how cleanup costs would be apportioned among all responsible parties under the Supreme Court’s US v. Burlington Northern decision.”

The Trust has completed cleanup of one site on Pigeon Creek, transforming it into the Shirley James Gateway Plaza – a link in Evansville’s Greenway Passage, a planned 42-mile bike path that will encircle the city. Remediation of the second scrap yard, located on the Ohio River, is under way.

The Trust claimed that defendants discarded batteries and transformers containing lead and PCBs at the scrap yards, contaminating both properties.

The settlement agreement, approved by Federal District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, ensures the Trust will receive $4,375,000 in cash and in-kind contributions from responsible parties in the next 30 days. The settlement allows the Trust to work with its environmental consultant, Apex Companies, LLC, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to remediate the second site.

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