Objections filed to proposed Fox River cleanup settlement

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File photo. (WLUK)

Three companies involved in the Fox River PCB cleanup project have objected to a proposed settlement involving an half-dozen other companies.

The federal government proposed a $56 million settlement with CBC Coating Inc., Menasha Corporation, U.S. Paper Mills Corporation, WTM I Company, Kimberly-Clark and NewPage. Also, the state of Wisconsin, Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission and City of Appleton would be part of the settlement. If approved, it would mark the end of those entities’ involvement in the cleanup project.

Any deal must be approved by a federal judge. There are no court dates set for review of the comments or the consent decree.

As part of the process, a comment period recently closed. FOX 11 obtained the comments submitted by the several of the other companies involved in the federal suit: NCR Corp., P.H. Glatfelter and Appvion (former Appleton Papers).

Appvion objects to provisions relating to how claims between the paper companies would be handled. It also calls the proposed allocation of the settlement proceeds “neither fair nor reasonable” because it says the money wouldn’t be used for site remediation.

NCR Corp. argues the proposal “does not reflect a rational estimate of the Settling Defendants’ responsibility for the harm caused.” Also, it calls the settlement unfair because of the provisions regarding claims between the companies. NCR Corp. says the deal is premature because of continuing court actions which could have implications for the Fox River project.

P.H. Glatfelter also criticizes the proposed settlement amounts, says there’s no mechanism includes that the money will be used properly, and argues the amount to be paid by the state is too low.

The documents obtained from the U.S. Dept. of Justice do not include any comments from Georgia-Pacific, which is also a party.

Under the terms of the proposal:

* The City of Appleton, CBC Coating Inc., Menasha Corporation, the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission, U.S. Paper Mills Corporation, and WTM I Company would would pay a total of $54 million toward the response costs and natural resource damages associated with the Site. The State would pay an additional $100,000 to resolve its own potential CERCLA liability, as alleged in certain counterclaims asserted by some of the defendants in this case.

The $54 million would be split in this way: $14,700,000 by U.S. Paper Mills Corporation $13,700,000 by Menasha Corporation $12,200,000 by WTM I Company $5,200,000 by the City of Appleton $5,200,000 by the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission $3,000,000 by CBC Coating, Inc.

* The State would pay an additional $100,000 to resolve its own potential CERCLA liability, as alleged in certain counterclaims asserted by some of the defendants in this case.

* In addition, Kimberly-Clark would pay the United States and the State a total of $1,350,000 under this settlement.

* Also, NewPage, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, would grant the federal government claims totaling up to $1,157,254, that would be paid as allowed through that action.

The U.S. Department of Justice says the money will be used in three ways:

* Slightly more than $45.9 million would be applied toward natural resource damages.

* Slightly more than $8 million would be paid into a segregated fund managed by the State to defray future costs that the State will continue to incur in overseeing ongoing cleanup work by non-settlers.

* Slightly less than $1.6 million would be paid into a Site-specific Superfund Special Account as partial reimbursement of past and future costs incurred by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The proposed settlement does not include three defendants in the case: NCR Corp., Georgia-Pacific and P.H. Glatfelter.

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