The settlement requires the parties to clean up hazardous waste at the Pine Street Canal Superfund Site in Burlington, Vermont, to reimburse the EPA $5.25M in costs, reimburse the state of Vermont for further costs, and undertake a wetlands project to compensate for past wetlands loss and damage to natural resources.

Three parties, Green Mountain Power Corporation, New England Electric System, and Vermont Gas Systems, will perform the work.

Specifically, the settlement requires the 23 settling parties to:

  • design and implement the cleanup of the site, a measure valued at $ 6 million;
  • reimburse the federal government $5.25M for past costs plus interest;
  • pay 100% of EPA and state oversight costs
  • undertake a wetlands enhancement/wetlands creation project to restore or replace the equivalent of 3.5ha of wetlands in the Burlington area, valued at an estimated $895,000
  • compensate the federal and state natural resource trustees for past costs and future oversight

Of the $5.25M to be paid for past cleanup costs, the US will pay $500,000 on behalf of the General Services Administration and the Department of Commerce to resolve potential liability, based on their predecessor agencies’ ownership and operation of a parcel at the Superfund site.

“This settlement ensures that the responsible parties will pay for an effective and sensible cleanup, and it compensates for the past damages to natural resources that were caused by poor management of hazardous wastes,” said John P. DeVillars, EPA’s New England administrator. “Equally important, it is a victory for common sense and community involvement.”

The Pine Street Canal Site, a manufactured gas plant, operated from 1895 to 1966. The contamination at the site is from coal gasification wastes. In the 1970s, an oily substance was discovered in the wetlands adjacent to the barge canal. Investigations at the site conducted from 1989 to 1992 revealed extensive coal tar contamination in the soils and an oil-like substance in nearby waters. The Pine Street Superfund site was listed on the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983.

Since its formation in 1993, the Pine Street Barge Canal Co-ordinating Council, a group of local community members, environmental activists, potentially responsible parties and representatives from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the EPA, has examined technical data and evaluated cleanup options. In June 1998, the Co-ordinating Council overwhelmingly accepted the cleanup plan proposed, in contrast to a plan the EPA had offered before the formation of the Council.

The clean-up plan calls for the construction of an underwater cap in the canal to prevent exposure of aquatic life to contaminated sediments; land use restrictions to prevent migration of contaminants and exposure to contaminated groundwater; and long-term monitoring. Design work will begin this year, and construction of the cap is expected to begin in 2001.

The remedy selected by EPA to address contamination at the Pine Street site minimises risks to public health, aquatic life, and birds by reducing potential exposure to site contaminants. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds, and metals are found in the site’s groundwater, soils and sediments.

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