FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE THURSDAY, APRIL 9, 1998

ENR

U.S., LOUISIANA ANNOUNCE DETAILS OF $7 MILLION

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The federal government and Louisiana today filed a court settlement detailing the terms of an $7 million agreement reached last month with Borden Chemicals and Plastics of Geismar, Louisiana resolving allegations that the company contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous waste. The settlement includes a $3.6 million civil penalty, which is the largest ever in Louisiana for violating a federal hazardous waste law and the second largest nationwide. "This agreement is good for the people of Louisiana and good for the environment," said Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This agreement will help ensure that the people of Louisiana have safe and clean water to drink. It also will help protect the the environment for future generations. Borden will now abide by the same hazardous waste laws as every other company across the country. The people of Louisiana deserve nothing less." Today's court settlement outlines the details of a settlement Borden agreed to on March 11. The company agreed to settle after two days of trial on federal allegations that it violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal law governing the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste. Under the settlement filed today in U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, Borden will spend several million dollars cleaning up soil and groundwater contamination around its plant and above the Norco Aquifer, one source of drinking water for many local residents, and constructing a groundwater containment and monitoring system in the aquifer to ensure that no contamination seeps into it from the company's plant. "The LDEQ has been working diligently over the years to bring Borden into the regulatory community and under a permit for its hazardous waste activities," said J. Dale Givens, Secretary of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. "We plan to make sure that the resources of this State, such as the Norco Aquifer, will be protected." "We are satisfied with the fair and reasonable resolution of this case. In the end, the agreement serves to protect our state's soil and water in a manner that will result in immediate benefits to our environment," said L.J. Hymel, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Louisiana. "Everyone should be assured of having safe water to drink. This settlement will protect an important drinking water source, as well as the environment surrounding the Borden plant," Acting EPA Regional Administrator Jerry Clifford said. According to the terms of the settlement Borden also will: apply for the required federal and state environmental permits;

accept full regulation under state and federal hazardous waste laws;

regularly test the water quality in the Norco Aquifer for the presence of industrial contaminants and report those results to regulatory agencies;

spend $3 million decommissioning three deep underground wells where it was disposing of solid waste. The wastes that would have been dumped in the wells now will be treated by innovative methods to eliminate contamination;

donate about $325,000 worth of equipment to the Ascension Parish Emergency Response Council to improve the Council's ability to respond to emergencies at industrial facilities, such as fires, chemical releases and similar problems;

spend about $75,000 to establish a Community Technology Center in a publicly accessible area where local residents and emergency personnel can get on the Internet and research environmental affairs and improve their ability to participate in environmental decision making.

The settlement filed with the court today would, if approved by the court, settle the government's lawsuit. The proposed settlement, known as a consent decree, will be published in the Federal Register. Any person may submit written comments concerning the proposed decree during the 30-day comment period to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20530. ###

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