UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT FOR COMPREHENSIVE STUDY

UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES SETTLEMENT FOR COMPREHENSIVE STUDY

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency today filed a motion in federal court in Birmingham, Ala.,

seeking approval of a comprehensive environmental settlement with Solutia Inc.

and Pharmacia Corporation to investigate and address the serious

polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination in Anniston, Ala.

The settlement filed by United States today revises one lodged with the court

on March 25. Revisions to the settlement were made to address concerns

expressed by the State of Alabama and community members during a 60-day public

comment period.

Solutia (formerly known as Monsanto Company) and Pharmacia have agreed to

continue the emergency cleanups of area residences that are the worst

contaminated, but under the revised settlement, the cleanup of residential

properties can begin two years earlier than under the decree previously lodged

with the court. Also, EPA, rather than the defendants, will perform the human

health risk assessmenta thorough, comprehensive study and evaluation of risks

to human health caused by PCBs. PCBs are considered a probable carcinogen and

are linked to neurological and developmental problems.

“We have listened to the residents of Anniston, the community impacted by the

contamination,” said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the

Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s revised

settlement takes steps to address those concerns and rectify the situation

there.””This revised settlement requires Solutia and Pharmacia to immediately

address the Anniston site to reduce the risks to human health and the

environment,” said John Peter Suarez, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for

Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s action demonstrates our strong

commitment to ensuring that companies responsible for polluting the

environment remedy and pay for the harm they have caused.”

This settlement mandates Solutia and Pharmacia to hire EPA-approved

contractors to conduct a Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS). The

RI/FS will comprehensively study any areas of contamination, including, but

not limited to, PCB contamination and evaluate what risks environmental

pollutants that are found may pose to public health and the environment. The

RI/FS will determine the cleanup options and suggest a strategy for restoring

this community. The cleanup will be strictly reviewed and overseen by EPA, as

is the immediate cleanup of residences where high levels of PCBs already have

been found.

The study will cover all areas where PCBs have been found, including the

Solutia facility, the landfills, creeks, rivers, lakes, flood plains and

residential, commercial and agricultural properties that surround the

facility.

Included in the settlement is an agreement to establish a $3.2 million

foundation to assist in funding special education needs for Anniston-area

children. In response to public comments, funding has been revised so that

monies are paid into the foundation each year of the life of the fund.

Other revisions made to the decree as a result of public comments are that the

amount of stipulated penalties has been increased and the defendants have

agreed not to challenge listing the site on the National Priorities List in

accordance with provisions in the decree. There are provisions in the decree

for the state to comment on contractors selected to work at the site.

During the public hearing, many people expressed concerns that the decree did

not provide for medical monitoring and health studies in Anniston. EPA does

not have the authority nor the expertise to conduct health studies and medical

monitoring. Therefore, the revised decree does not provide for medical

monitoring and health studies. However, EPA is committed to providing full

support to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), which

is the agency that performs that type of work. ATSDR has already performed

extensive work in the Anniston community and has committed to continuing its

work there.

Solutia Inc.’s Anniston plant encompasses approximately 70 acres of

residential and commercial land and is about one mile west of downtown. The

facility is one of two in the U.S. which produced PCBs (Aroclors). PCB

production ceased in 1971 in Anniston.

The revised consent decree was filed today in U.S. District Court in

Birmingham, Ala., along with a Motion to Enter and Memorandum in Support of

the Motion to Enter, public comments, and the United States’ responses to the

comments. The settlement will not be effective until the Court approves it.

For more information, see

http://www.epa.gov/region4/waste/npl/nplal/annpcbal.htm.