EPA, DOJ Reach Superfund Settlement for NC Site

The settlement with Honeywell International Inc. and International Paper Co. concerns the cleanup of contaminated soils and sediments at the LCP-Holtrachem plant in Riegelwood, N.C. It is a 24-acre site adjacent to the Cape Fear River.

EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice have announced a settlement with Honeywell International Inc. and International Paper Co. for the cleanup of contaminated soils and sediments at the LCP-Holtrachem plant in Riegelwood, N.C.

Brought by the government under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), known as the Superfund Law, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the action concerns the site, about 24 acres in size and adjacent to the Cape Fear River at 636 John Riegel Road, where from 1963 to 2000 the LCP-Holtrachem plant made chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, liquid chlorine, hydrogen gas, liquid bleach, and hydrochloric acid using a mercury cell process.

According to the complaint filed simultaneously with the settlement April 18, the two companies are liable for historic industrial discharges of metals, including mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls at the site. "This settlement incisively corrects historic environmental issues impinging on the Cape Fear River," said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to work with its partners at EPA to ensure that companies are held accountable for past environmental damage as required by CERCLA."

"Environmental law violations will be vigorously pursued by our office through civil and other enforcement tools, in coordination with our partners at the EPA and U.S. Department of Justice," added U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. of the Eastern District of North Carolina. "The required full remediation, along with repayment of all EPA response costs, sends a message to polluters that violators will be held accountable for restoring our beautiful rivers and land here in North Carolina."

Under the proposed settlement, Honeywell and International Paper will address contaminated soils and sediments through a combination of in-situ treatment, on-site storage, and off-site treatment and disposal, and they will reimburse the United States for all past and future costs associated with the cleanup. In exchange, the two companies will receive a covenant not to sue and protection from suit by third parties. The two companies previously performed investigations and preliminary cleanup work under prior agreements with EPA.

According to DOJ, Honeywell is the current owner of the site, which borders about 1,300 acres of land owned by International Paper. Since 1951, International Paper has operated a bleached kraft paper mill there that manufactures paperboard from wood fiber. International Paper used many of the chemicals manufactured at the LCP-Holtrachem plant; hazardous substances from the LCP-Holtrachem plant were disposed of at the International Paper property and are being addressed under the settlement.

The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by a federal judge. EPA will hold a public meeting in Riegelwood during the public comment process.

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