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Navy Agrees to Reimburse EPA $1 Million for Hazardous Waste Cleanup in Maine

Release Date: 03/01/2001
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office (617-918-1014)

BOSTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the U.S. Navy has agreed to reimburse the agency $1 million for cleanup costs at the Hooper Sands hazardous waste site in South Berwick, Maine.

Current law requires the U.S. Congress to authorize and appropriate the payment from the Navy to EPA's cleanup funds. Under the settlement agreement, the Navy will use its best efforts to obtain such Congressional authorization.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Paul Hussey, who owned the 80-acre site, accepted waste oils and chemicals from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and disposed of them in unlined pits on the property, contaminating groundwater. Twelve residential drinking water wells in the area were contaminated with various solvents and other organic chemicals, and an additional 39 home wells were threatened by contaminated groundwater.

EPA cleaned up the site a decade ago, removing 150 drums and excavating and treating 1300 cubic yards of contaminated soils. EPA also funded, with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the South Berwick Water District, a municipal water line to bring drinking water to 51 houses whose wells were contaminated or at risk. The water line was completed in 1995.

"Whether it's a business or a government entity like the Navy, EPA has a duty to make sure that responsible parties reimburse us for site cleanup costs," said Ira W. Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "This agreement with the Navy accomplishes that goal and it also allows us to devote more resources to future cleanups."

Under Superfund law, EPA is able to seek reimbursement of cleanup costs from those responsible for disposing of, or creating the wastes. In 1989, the Navy agreed in principle to fully reimburse EPA for cleanup costs at the Hooper Sands site. The Navy previously made two payments, following settlements in 1990 and 1992, to cover $1.8 million of EPA's costs. Today's agreement covers the remaining $1 million of the total costs for cleanup and water line construction.

The agreement will undergo a 30 day public comment period, as required by law. The comment period will begin when the agreement is published in the Federal Register, expected to be within the next fourteen days.