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The United States' Intent to Lodge Settlement for Comprehensive Study of PCB Contamination in Anniston, Alabama

Release Date: 03/22/2002
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Re: The United States' intent to lodge settlement for comprehensive study of PBC contamination in Anniston, Ala.
17. Why is EPA concluding a consent agreement now with Solutia?
          A: We have been negotiating this consent agreement for over a year. Solutia has now agreed to conditions that will provide for EPA oversight of work performed by the company.

          More importantly, we want to get the area cleaned up as quickly as possible. This agreement will ensure that Solutia conducts and pays for the necessary steps to do this, under close EPA supervision. It provides more legal certainty that these steps will occur, more quickly, than any other available mechanism.

    17. Will the public have an opportunity for input into the Consent Decree ?
    1. With a consent agreement, as opposed to an administrative order, the public will have an opportunity to be involved, through a 30 day comment period after the agreement is lodged with the District Court. Also, EPA is planning to hold a public availability session in Anniston after the agreement is lodged with the court. In addition, there are other provisions in the decree which allow for public participation. For example, Solutia will fund a Technical Assistance plan which will provide technical assistance to the community in understanding the work required by the decree.
    17. Did EPA release a draft of the consent agreement?
    1. Neither EPA nor the Department of Justice released the draft Consent Decree. All documents, including the draft Consent Decree, were produced by Solutia/Monsanto pursuant to a subpoena issued by the state court. The subpoena required Solutia to produce all documents related to the settlement negotiations. After all the documents were released, they then became a matter of public record.
Q: What are the terms of the Consent Decree?
          A: The Consent Decree and attachments, when entered by the Court, constitute an enforceable agreement between Solutia, Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation and the U.S. Government which will provide for the following activities and actions:

          (a) a study to determine the nature and extent of contamination and any threat to the public health, welfare, or the environment at or from the site;

          (b) a determination and evaluation of alternatives for remedial action to prevent, mitigate or otherwise respond to or remedy any release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants at or from the site;

          (c) the incorporation of the existing Removal Order into the Consent Decree. The cleanup of the most contaminated properties will continue pursuant to the Removal Order while the studies are being conducted;

          (d) the recovery of future response and oversight costs at the site;

          (e) the creation of a foundation in the amount of $3.2 million which will provide special education, tutoring, or other supplemental educational services for the children of west Anniston that have learning disabilities or otherwise need additional educational assistance; and

          (f) funding up to $150,000 for a Technical Assistance Plan (TAP) and a Community Advisory Group (CAG) to fund qualified citizen groups to hire technical advisors, independent from Monsanto, to help interpret and comment on site-related documents;

          (g) provide meeting space and facilitators for the CAG for periodic meetings during the response activities and through the public participation period for the Record of Decision.

          In addition, Solutia, in a separate administrative agreement, has agreed to reimburse Superfund more than $6,000,000 for costs expended over the past two years.

    17. Will EPA require the Solutia to fund health studies?
    1. EPA is the agency charged with cleaning up hazardous waste sites. The federal agency that deals with health studies is the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and ATSDR is not a party to this settlement. ATSDR and the Alabama Department of Public Health have been doing work in Anniston, and we continue to fully support their involvement with this community.
          We have funded work in Anniston by the Pediatric Environmental Health Speciality Unit from Emory University, to educate primary care physicians on how to identify and diagnose signs in children with health problems of environmental origin.
    17. Is EPA taking over this case from the State judge?
    1. We are not taking over the case in State court. We are not involved in State court actions regarding liability or damages as they pertain to private plaintiffs.
          We have been in Anniston for almost two years, conducting sampling, meeting with the community, and directing cleanups by the company at the worst contaminated locations. We believe that the path to the quickest, most technically and scientifically sound cleanup possible is through this Federal consent agreement.
    17. Why is EPA taking the lead at this site, as opposed to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management as the State Attorney General has suggested?
    1. We want to work with all parties in promoting a cleanup that is as quick and technically sound as possible. That includes the State Attorney General, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the City of Anniston, and citizen groups. However, in this case the use of Federal CERCLA authority as an organizing framework offers the best opportunity for a cleanup which is legally certain and comprehensive in its scope. In addition, EPA has the technical expertise to oversee the cleanup and ensure it is done properly.