U.S. Water News Online
RALEIGH, N.C. -- A transformer company that spilled
industrial chemicals, polluting Lake Crabtree, will share the cost of
cleaning up the site with Progress Energy and two other companies.
The question of cleaning up the lake itself and other waterways
The legal settlement, approved by the U.S. Department of Justice,
calls for Ward Transformer and the other parties to hire a contractor
to remove contaminated soil from the 11-acre industrial site near
Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
The major contaminant is polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a
class of toxic chemicals that were added to transformers as coolants
until Congress banned them in 1979.
Ward handled PCB-laced oil drained from transformers in the 1960s
and 1970s, leading to contamination of the site and nearby creeks.
Ward has claimed it couldn't afford to clean up the high levels of
contamination, which the Environmental Protection Agency first
discovered in the late 1970s. The contamination migrated downstream
in the years since, a situation that The News & Observer of
Raleigh reported on in July.
The agreement requires the companies to provide $5.4 million to
cover the cleanup cost and repay about $725,000 of EPA's past costs.
It does not specify the share that each will provide.
"The agreement is significant to EPA in that it gets the ball
rolling ...," said Laura Niles, an EPA spokeswoman. "I know we are
going to expedite our review to get work started. We understand that
it is important to the community to get it cleaned up."
Three companies that took transformers to Ward for repair --
Progress Energy, Bassett Furniture Industries Inc. of Bassett, Va.,
and CONSOL Energy Inc. of Pittsburgh -- signed the agreement along
with Ward Transformer and two Ward family companies, Reward
Properties and Reward Statesville.
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