Settlement Reached for Peterson/Puritan Inc. Superfund Site in Cumberland and Lincoln

By ecoRI News staff

A settlement estimated to be worth more than $40 million was recently by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Protection (DEM). The settlement ensures that the cleanup of the Peterson/Puritan Inc. Superfund site in Cumberland and Lincoln, R.I. will move forward.

The agreement, lodged in federal court in Providence, resolves federal and state liability claims against nearly 100 potentially responsible parties for the clean up of the site. Under the settlement, 22 of the settling defendants will be responsible for implementation of the remedy selected by EPA in 2015. These parties will also pay for the oversight costs incurred by EPA and DEM. The remaining settling parties are required to make payments to a trust to be used to help pay for the site’s clean up.

The area being remediated, known as "Operable Unit Two," is adjacent to the Blackstone River and contains many parcels within the Blackstone River floodplain. These parcels include the J.M. Mills landfill, the former Nunes transfer station and an unnamed island, all of which contain waste material. These parcels were owned and operated as a single landfill operation by Joseph and Linda Marszalkowski through their business J.M. Mills Inc.

The selected remedy includes excavation and consolidation of contaminated soils and sediments, construction of a multi-layered impermeable cap, institutional controls and long-term monitoring. The total cost for the selected remedy is estimated to be $40.3 million, according to the EPA

“EPA’s clean-up plan for this site protects peoples’ health, while at the same time it ensures the area remains aesthetically pleasing,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This settlement allows for the funding of our clean-up plan, and leaves those who contributed taking responsibility.”

The settling defendants responsible for performing the cleanup include: ACS Industries Inc.; Alcoa Inc.; Avnet Inc.; Clean Harbors Inc.; Costa Inc.; Cumberland Engineering Corp.; CVS Pharmacy Inc.; General Cable Industries Inc.; Hindley Manufacturing Co. Inc.; Hollingsworth & Vose Co.; International Paper Co.; KIK Custom Products Inc.; Philips Electronics North America Corp.; Sears Roebuck & Co.; Shawmut Corp.; Supervalu Holdings Inc.; Teknor Apex Co.; Texas Instruments Inc.; Narragansett Electric Co.; Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. LLC; Waste Management of Massachusetts Inc.; Waste Management Disposal Services of Massachusetts Inc.; Waste Management of Rhode Island Inc.; and the Wyman-Gordon Co.

Disposal activities took place from circa 1954 to the late 1980s, during which assorted hazardous wastes and hazardous substances were disposed of at the site. During this time, more than 2.1 million cubic yards of waste were disposed of at the site, resulting in contamination of the soil, groundwater, surface water and sediments. The 500-acre site was listed on EPA’s National Priorities List in 1983.