Environmental Cleanup of Hanover Site to Receive Substantial Funds Under Settlement With Tronox, Inc
The site, known as the "Fireworks Site," is a 240-acre former munitions manufacturing, testing and disposal facility. As a result of the munitions operations that occurred there over many decades, starting during World War I, soils, sediments, and water bodies in the vicinity are contaminated with high levels of mercury, lead and other heavy metals. An advisory against consumption of fish in the vicinity has been in place for years.
As a result of this settlement, which is part of Tronox's bankruptcy proceedings, the Commonwealth will receive approximately $950,000 and a percentage of the recovery from a lawsuit against Tronox's parent company, which is expected to total millions of dollars. The money will reimburse the Commonwealth for outstanding past costs, fund assessment and recovery of natural resource damages and the bulk of it will go into an expendable trust to be controlled by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to pay for future cleanup costs at the site.
"Taxpayers should not have to pay to clean up the dangerous mercury contamination at the Fireworks Site," said AG Coakley. "Companies should not be allowed to escape their responsibility for dangerous pollution, and this settlement is a very large step in that direction."
"This settlement represents significant progress toward restitution of portions of the North River tributaries for use by future generations of our citizens," said MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt. "The agreement also positions the Commonwealth to receive millions more from future litigation so that this site can finally be cleaned up and closed out and the land can be put back into productive re-use."
In January 2009, Tronox filed its Chapter 11 petition in the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy Court; and, shortly thereafter, brought a lawsuit against its parent company, Anadarko. That suit alleges Anadarko's earlier spin-off of Tronox was unlawful because it vested that entity with hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental liability and insufficient assets. Under the terms of the settlement, Tronox is transferring its right to proceeds from that lawsuit to the governmental entities to which it has environmental liability; and, the Commonwealth's share is anticipated to amount to millions of dollars.
Joining Massachusetts in the settlement are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin. Also party to the settlement are the United States, on behalf of six federal entities, United States Environmental Protection Agency, United Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the Navajo Nation.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Carol Iancu of Attorney General Coakley's Environmental Protection Division, with assistance of Senior Counsel Jennifer Davis, of MassDEP's Office of General Counsel and Jonathan Hobill and Rebecca Tobin of MassDEP's Southeastern Regional Office.