Environment News Service (ENS)

Environment News Service (ENS)

Maryland`s Spectron Superfund to Be Cleansed of Hazardous Chemicals


Source: Environment News Service (ENS)

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (ENS) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, announced Thursday it has reached a $21.8 million settlement with 95 parties to clean up the Spectron Inc. Superfund Site in Elkton, Maryland. Under this consent decree, reached in pre-litigation negotiations, the settling defendants have agreed to perform and fund an estimated $19.5 million cleanup at the site.

During industrial operations from 1961 through 1988, soil and groundwater at the Spectron site became contaminated with hazardous substances including volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethene and perchloroethane.

In 1961, Galaxy Chemicals Inc. began operating a solvent recycling facility, reprocessing wastes from the pharmaceutical, paint, and chemical process industries.

After Galaxy Chemicals' bankruptcy in 1975, the facility was reopened as Solvent Distillers Inc., which in 1987 changed its name to Spectron, Inc. In 1988, Spectron went bankrupt and closed the facility, abandoning many hazardous substances used in its operations.

In 1989, EPA took emergency response measures at the site to remove and dispose of 1,300 drums and 62 tanks at the site containing hazardous substances, and ordered several of the potentially responsible parites to continue cleanup activities. The site was placed on the Superfund list in 1994.

The settlement includes reimbursement to the EPA of about $1.8 million in past cleanup costs, and payment of $507,300 to the natural resource trustees to restore aquatic habitat and resources, including migratory fish such as blueback herring that were harmed by contaminant releases from the site.

The U.S. Justice Department filed the proposed consent decree in federal district court on behalf of the EPA and four other agencies that are natural resource trustees – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Maryland Department of the Environment, and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and federal court approval.

The settling defendants are alleged to have generated or arranged for the disposal or treatment of hazardous substances contaminating the eight acre Superfund site.

In 2002, the government reached a $5.8 million settlement with more than 480 parties responsible for small amounts of contamination at the Spectron Site, including companies, individuals, municipalities, and state and federal agencies.

Earlier this year, the government reached a settlement agreement with 48 additional such parties for nearly $1 million.

In all, settling defendants are paying 96 percent of the total cleanup costs at the Spectron Site – an estimated $39.65 million – and are providing adequate funding to restore natural resources, the EPA said.

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