Agreement Cleans-up One of Most Toxic SuperfundSites

A settlement with Aventis CropSciences USA Inc. will fund future\r\ncleanup costs at the Iron Mountain\r\nMine Superfund Site nine miles northwest of Redding, Calif.

A settlement with Aventis CropSciences USA Inc. will fund future cleanup costs that could approach $1 billion at the Iron Mountain Mine Superfund Site nine miles northwest of Redding, Calif.

The settlement, on behalf of EPA, the U.S. Department of the Interior, the U.S. Department of Commerce and several state agencies, is one of the largest settlements with a single private party in the history of the federal Superfund program.

The settlement ensures long-term control of more than 95 percent of the releases from Iron Mountain, historically the largest point source of toxic metals in the country, and the source of the most acidic mine drainage in the world.

Prior to remediation, the mine discharged an average of a ton a day of toxic metals into the Upper Sacramento River.

Aventis, formerly known as Rhone Poulenc Inc., has arranged for The IT Group to operate and maintain the site cleanup over the next 30 years, and for a payment to the federal and state governments of $514 million in 2030 to pay for future site costs.

"This settlement agreement is an excellent example of government and the private sector working together to develop a solution to a serious environmental problem," said Winston Hickox, secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency. "The environment and California taxpayers will both benefit -- the Sacramento River will be less polluted and taxpayers will not have to foot the bill."

Through this funding mechanism, Aventis will pay roughly $160 million to fund the long-term operation and maintenance at the site, a payment to EPA of approximately $8 million and a payment to the natural resource trustees to fun natural resource restoration projects ($10 million).

The settlement also waives $150 million in past costs, bringing the total amount to close to $1 billion.

"This innovative settlement is good news for people, fish and animals from the northern headwaters of the Sacramento River all the way down to San Francisco Bay," said EPA Administrator Felicia Marcus. "As recently as five years ago, this site dumped the equivalent of 150 tanker cars full of toxic metals into the Sacramento River each day during winter storms."

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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