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Case Summary: EPA Receives $5.7 Million for Cleanup Costs at A.C. Lawrence Superfund Site

On September 25, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Maine approved a consent decree between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Justice, and ConAgra Grocery Products Company, LLC (“ConAgra”), a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods, Inc., under which ConAgra will reimburse EPA $5.7 million for cleanup costs of the A.C. Lawrence Leather Company Sludge Lagoons Superfund Site in South Paris, Maine.

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This settlement shows that the “polluter pays” principle is alive and well. EPA always tries to ensure that US taxpayers don’t foot the bill for pollution caused by others, so this is good news not only for Maine’s citizens in South Paris but indeed for all US taxpayers.” Curt Spalding, EPA Regional Administrator

Information about ConAgra Grocery Products Company

The United States alleged that ConAgra was the successor to the A.C. Lawrence Leather Company through a series of complex corporate transactions.

Information about the A.C. Lawrence Superfund Site

The A.C. Lawrence Sludge Lagoon Superfund Site is a 7-acre property commonly known as “Lot 7” in Paris, Maine. From at least 1955 to 1975, the A.C. Lawrence Leather Company disposed of tannery sludge in a series of sludge lagoons located at the site. At the time the tannery closed, the sludge lagoons were covered with gravel.

In 2000, the Town of South Paris, Maine received a complaint regarding “green ooze” on the bank of the Little Androscoggin River adjacent to the site. Following investigations, EPA and the state determined that sludge remained in the nearby former lagoons and that the soil in and around the former lagoons was contaminated. Sampling showed a widespread layer of chromium sludge present in the soil from approximately two and a half feet below ground surface to a depth of as much as fourteen feet below ground surface. The primary contaminants were chromium, lead, and volatile organic compounds.

During 2006 and 2007, EPA cleaned up the 7-acre site and excavated and disposed of contaminated soils from the lagoons and the riverbank. EPA found an estimated 6,200 cubic yards of contaminated sludge and soil at the Site requiring excavation and disposal.

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Summary of the Consent Decree

The agreement requires Conagra to reimburse EPA $5.7 million for cleanup costs at the site and concludes EPA’s lawsuit against ConAgra.

Contact Information

For more information contact

Sarah Meeks
Enforcement Counsel
Region 1
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (OES04-3)
Boston, MA 02109

Barbara Gutierrez
Attorney Advisor
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20460

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