Companies to pay $29.8 Million in Cleanup Costs for Big John's Salvage-Hoult Road

In settlement papers filed in federal district court, three companies have agreed to pay about $29.8 million in cleanup costs for a Superfund site in Fairmont, Marion County, W. Va., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.

The three companies -- Exxon Mobil Corp., Vertellus Specialties Inc., and CBS Corp.-- will perform cleanup work and reimburse the EPA and the state of West Virginia $11 million for past cleanup costs at the Big John’s Salvage-Hoult Road Superfund Site. The companies have agreed to do the cleanup at the site at an estimated cost of $17.8 million. The companies will also reimburse EPA and the state for all future costs associated with overseeing the cleanup, and these are estimated to be $1 million.

The 38-acre Big John’s site, located near the east bank of the Monongahela River in Fairmont, was designated a Superfund site in 2000, making it eligible for federal cleanup funds. The site became contaminated with hazardous wastes from decades of industrial activity.

Under the federal Superfund law, landowners, waste generators and waste transporters that are responsible for the contamination of a Superfund site must either clean up the site, or reimburse the government or other parties for cleanup activities.

Cleanup actions will include constructing an impermeable cap to contain contaminated soil and enhancing an existing ground water containment system to help prevent contaminants from migrating. Additionally, about 5,500 cubic yards of tar wastes coating a one-acre area along the bottom of the Monongahela River will be removed and sent to a certified disposal facility.

Between 1932 and 1973, the site was owned by a predecessor of Vertellus Specialities, including the Reilly Tar and Chemical Corp., which operated a tar processing and refining facility. Domestic Coke, a predecessor of ExxonMobil operated a coke production plant adjacent to the Big John’s site and sold and delivered crude coal tar to the Reilly facility for refining. From 1973 to 1984, Big John Salvage owned the property, and operated a metal, glass, and oil salvaging operation. During this period, Big John’s accepted hazardous waste materials from Westinghouse Electric Co., a predecessor of CBS Corp., including mercury-containing fluorescent light bulbs, lead dust and mercury-tainted waste oil.

Work is currently ongoing at the site to prevent the release of tar seeps to surface water and the Monongahela River. Since 2001, more than 11 million gallons of contaminated water have been captured in a collection system and cleansed in a series of water treatment systems before they could enter the river.

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