Processing Magazine

Court denies Hercules appeal of $119 million

April 30, 2007

The Supreme Court turned down a request by chemical producer Hercules Inc. to overturn a $119 million judgment against it by a lower federal court, according to the Associated Press. A federal district court in 1998 found the company liable, under the federal environmental "Superfund" law, for most of the cost of cleaning up a hazardous waste site in Jacksonville, Ark. Hercules and other companies had produced herbicides at the site from the 1950s until the 1980s. Hercules disputed that it was liable for the cleanup costs, arguing in court papers that the waste was produced "years after" it had "ceased production and sold the plant" in 1970.

The company said that the Environmental Protection Agency has "never collected a penny" from the company that Hercules said did generate the pollution in question, Vertac Chemical Corp. As a result, the EPA has sought out Hercules as "deep pocket" target, the company said. The EPA argued the company was liable because of the pollution it released from 1961 to 1970, when it operated the plant.