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Case Summary: Settlement Reached on Groundwater Cleanup at the Davis Liquid Waste Superfund Site, R.I.

On February 17, 2012, a settlement agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Justice (DOJ), State of Rhode Island, and multiple settling defendants was approved by the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island regarding cleanup of the David Liquid Waste Superfund Site in Smithfield, R.I.

The consent decree requires the settling parties listed below to complete the final step of the cleanup at the site, to complete groundwater treatment, as well as pay all future costs, including future oversight costs. The estimated cost to cleanup the site is $24 million, plus an additional $13.7 million for the groundwater work.

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Information about the companies

The following companies are parties to the settlement agreement:

  • Ashland Inc. – Founded in 1924, Ashland Inc. is a global provider of specialty chemicals, technologies, and expertise to customers in a variety of markets.
  • Black and Decker Corporation – Black & Decker Corporation is a global manufacturer of power tools and accessories, hardware and home improvement products, and fastening systems.
  • FKI Industries, Inc. f/k/a Acco-Bristol Division of Babcock Industries, Inc. - FKI Industries Inc. supplies material handling equipments and related hardware products.
  • Bristol, Inc. – Bristol Inc., is a private company categorized under Industrial Control Analyzers Manufacturers.
  • Morton International, LLC - Morton International, LLC is a private company categorized under Adhesives and Sealants Manufacturers.
  • Rohm and Haas Company – The Rohm and Haas Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dow Chemical Company. Rohm and Haas manufactures miscellaneous materials.
  • Life Technologies Corporation - Life Technologies Corporation is a global biotechnology company providing of products and services, from instruments to everyday lab essentials.

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Information about the Davis Liquid Waste Superfund Site

The Davis Liquid Waste Superfund Site is located on approximately 10 acres in a rural section of Smithfield, Rhode Island. Throughout the 1970s, the site accepted liquid and chemical wastes, such as paint and metal sludges, oily wastes, solvents, acids, caustics, pesticides, phenols, halogens, metals, fly ash, and laboratory pharmaceuticals. Liquid wastes were transported in drums and bulk tank trucks, and were dumped directly into unlined lagoons and seepage pits.

The operator periodically excavated the semi-solid lagoon materials, dumped these materials at several locations on the site, and covered them with soil. Other operations included the collection of salvaged vehicles and machine parts, metal recycling, and tire shredding. More information on the Davis Liquid Waste Superfund Site is available from Region 1's website.

Pollutants and Environmental Effects

During the mid-1970s, local officials received complaints from nearby residents about chemical odors in their private water supply. The drinking water wells were found to have been contaminated by a variety of chemicals. The major contaminants of concern in the overburden and bedrock groundwater that exceed federal and state standards are: volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as tetrachlorethene, trichloroethene, vinyl chloride and benzene; semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), including bis (2-chloroethyl)ether; pesticides, such as aldrin and dieldrin; and metals, including arsenic and maganese.

Exposure risks to residents from contaminated groundwater has already been minimized by prior cleanup activities at the site, including the following:

  • installation of the Davis Waterline,
  • treatment of almost 30,000 yards of contaminated soil,
  • removal of buried hazardous waste drums, and
  • removal of over 6 million discarded tires.

The work addressed in this consent decree, the treatment of the contaminated groundwater, marks the final phase of cleanup work at the site.

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Overview of the Consent Decree

Pursuant to the consent decree, the five settling parties (plus related corporations) agree to perform groundwater cleanup at the site for operable unit 2 (OU2), with an estimated cost of $13.7 million, and to pay all future costs, including future oversight costs. EPA agrees to compromise approximately $8.8 million in past cleanup costs. Additionally, up to $9.5 million in funds from previous settlements held in a site-specific special account will be used for cleanup activity.

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Comment Period

The consent decree filed with the District Court was subject to a 30-day public comment period and subsequently approved by the federal court.

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For more information contact:

Barbara Gutierrez
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460

Ruthann Sherman
Senior Enforcement Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 1
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3912

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