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Chemical Maker Offers to Settle Wisconsin Waste Suit

February 02, 2010
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According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, chemical manufacturer Sensient Technologies Corp. of Milwaukee has offered to pay between $10 million and $12 million to settle a 2007 federal lawsuit seeking repayment of money spent to clean up an East Camden toxic waste site. The company recently claimed that it never owned or operated the Camden plant that contaminated the soil and ground water, but had bought the company that did so. Sensient was among a group of companies and agencies sued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The area underwent environmental testing in 1998, was designated a Superfund site, and was cleaned through 2006. More than two decades ago, it bought a dye manufacturing company that operated a factory at the location. The plant was then shut down. Sensient said it never owned the land or the factory. The EPA removed more than 125,000 tons of toxic soil that it said were contaminated by factory operations from 1922 until 1988. The government spent $16 million to remove the soil, install liners and backfill, re-vegetate the site, and reconstruct wetlands, according to the lawsuit. Sensient was named a "potentially responsible party under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and became the subject of environmental claims because a company that Sensient acquired over 20 years ago once operated at the site," the company said in a news release last week. The company tried to get the lawsuit dismissed, saying federal regulators had not contacted them until 2004, after much of the cleanup had been completed. When the federal government began investigating the site, officials found thousands of tanks, vats, drums, cylinders, and other containers with hazardous substances, according to the lawsuit. Contamination of the soil and groundwater and the threat to the public were found to be far greater than first expected, prompting officials to launch the extensive and expensive cleanup.
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