The Department of Justice has filed a complaint and consent order in a federal court in North Carolina that requires El Paso Natural Gas Co. and successor owners of a contaminated textile plant site in the state to pay $1.61 million for remediation and other costs incurred by the federal government.
The consent order, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, directs El Paso, Beaunit Corp. and Beaunit Fabrics Corp. to pay $1.5 million of the government’s costs for cleaning up groundwater contamination and pesticide contaminated soils at the FCX-Statesville Superfund site, which includes both the textile plant site and an agricultural chemical formulation plant that was operated by FCX Corp. It also requires the payment to the state of North Carolina of $110,000 in reimbursement costs. El Paso purchased Beaunit in 1967, but it was not immediately clear if it still owned the company.
The site is contaminated with numerous hazardous substances, including arsenic, manganese, barium iron, aluminum and lead, according to the complaint.
El Paso owned and operated the textile plant from 1955 through April 1977. Beaunit Corp. and Beaunit Fabrics owned and operated the plant between 1997 and June 1981. Burlington Resources, which was not named in the complaint, owned the textile facility between 1981 and 2003, at which time it was resold to El Paso.
“El Paso is jointly and severally liable to the United States under…CERCLA [the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980] for unreimbursed costs of removal and remedial action incurred by the United States in connection with the site,” the complaint said.
In December 1997, the federal government filed a consent decree against El Paso, Beaunit and Burlington Resources in the district court in North Carolina. However, the government at the time agreed not to sue the defendants for the costs of the remedial action performed at certain areas of the site and the costs incurred by the U.S. government in overseeing the work. That covenant did not prevent the government from suing in the future to recover the costs associated with other parts of the site, which is the subject of the current action.
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