OPERATOR CAM Lafky loads PCB sediment into a truck at the dredging site on Little Lake Butte des Morts in the town of Menasha, Wis. Six companies, the city of Appleton and a sewerage commission have offered to pay a total of $56 million to help with the massive cleanup of contaminants in the Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin. If a federal judge approves the settlement with state and federal authorities, the entities could be released from claims that they were partly responsible for polluting the river.
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) - Six companies and two municipal entities have offered to pay a total of $56 million to help with the massive cleanup of contaminants in the Fox River in northeastern Wisconsin, a project estimated to cost $1 billion.
If a federal judge approves the settlement among state and federal authorities and two American Indian tribes, the eight parties could be released from claims that they were partly responsible for polluting the river with PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, which were used in paper making and other manufacturing in the Fox Valley between 1954 and 1971.
The proposed settlement includes the City of Appleton, the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission, CBC Coating, Menasha Corp., U.S. Paper Mills Corp., WTM 1 (formerly known as Wisconsin Tissue Mills), Kimberly-Clark and NewPage Corp.
It does not include NCR Corp. and Glatfelter, two companies that have already spent millions on the cleanup so far, according to WLUK-TV.
Damage claims were brought by federal and state governments, Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin and the Oneida Tribe of Wisconsin. The state is a co-plaintiff with the federal government as the trustee for the waters that were harmed by the contamination
The agreement was reached with the help of a mediator, U.S. Magistrate Judge Aaron Goodstein, according to J.P. Causey Jr., vice president of WTM I.
"The settlement is the result of many months of negotiations between many parties, and reflects the settling parties' strong desire to resolve all claims and support the cleanup and restoration of the Fox River Site. This milestone could not have been reached without the able assistance of Judge Goodstein," Causey said in a statement.
The project is more than half done, said Beth Olson, who is overseeing the cleanup for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Work on the river should begin again next month, Olson said.
The cleanup is projected to be completed in 2017.