The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against two New York trucking companies for the cleanup of groundwater contamination. According to the lawsuit, the trucking companies were responsible for the contamination that eventually was cleaned up by the Environmental Protection Agency.
On July 2, the United States government filed a lawsuit against IMC Eastern and Island Transportation in an attempt to recover costs of removal by the federal government of hazardous substances allegedly connect to the two companies.
Cleanup occurred in an area known as the New Cassel/Hicksville groundwater contamination Superfund site in the towns of Hempstead, North Hempstead and Oyster Bay in Nassau County, N.Y. Areas affected were downstream from the New Cassel Industrial Area.
IMC Eastern was located on property in the western portion of the New Cassel Industrial Area from 1953 through March 1993 manufacturing and selling motors and air movers. A 1993 sampling discovered contamination at the site. An investigation from September 1998 and September 1999 revealed groundwater contamination believed to be the result of IMC’s operations.
Island Transportation was in the industrial area from 1971 to 1981, using its property to wash and repair its trucks and refuel. From at least 1971 to 1979, Island Transportation used a volatile organic compound, trichloroethylene, when maintaining trucks. A 2000 investigation discovered groundwater contamination at the site, including the compound used by Island Transportation.
According a Department of Justice news release, the compound used by the two companies can cause a variety of adverse human health effects, including damage to the nervous system, liver, kidneys and reproductive system.
Contamination at the industrial area was discovered in 1986 as part of a countywide groundwater investigation. Preliminary assessments from 1994-99 were conducted to determine the sources of contamination. Among the 17 facilities identified were the addresses occupied by IMC and Island Transportation.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation failed to implement a remedy selected in 2003. Rather, the department requested in December 2010 that the EPA include the site on the national priority list, which was granted in September 2011.
Per the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as Superfund, the EPA shoulders the initial burden of the cleanup of areas on the National Priority List. The act also allows the government to hold persons accountable for contamination by putting them on the hook for the cleanup costs. A trust fund is available in situations where no responsible party can be identified.
“Maintaining the safety of public water supply wells is essential to the health and well-being of our communities,” United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “Today’s filing serves as a warning to those who pollute our environment but refuse to take financial responsibility for their actions. This office will seek the recovery of costs, and civil monetary penalties where appropriate, from those who cause or contribute to environmental contamination.”
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