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Release Date: 7/2/1998
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587


     The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that a settlement has been reached
with NL Industries Inc. totalling $5.6 million for a cleanup of a lead battery recycling business in Norco, Calif.  The settlement represents full recovery of U.S. EPA's previously awarded cleanup costs and almost $3 million in penalties.  This is the largest penalty that the U.S. EPA western region has collected in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) case.  The Norco Battery Site is a former lead battery recycling business which B&H Battery operated from 1961 to 1983.  NL Industries sent lead batteries to the site.  U.S. EPA investigated the site and found high levels of lead in the soils which posed an imminent and substantial endangerment to the public.  Under CERCLA, the Agency issued an administrative order to NL Industries to remove or treat the lead-contaminated soils.  NL Industries completed the first phase of the cleanup, but refused to perform the second phase. After several unsuccessful attempts to get NL to comply and finish the cleanup, U.S. EPA took over responsibility, completed the cleanup in 1989 and sued to recover the cleanup costs and penalties.  In April 1994, the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California in Los Angeles ruled that NL Industries had refused and failed to comply with a valid and applicable order without sufficient
cause and awarded U.S. EPA cleanup costs and penalties.  Both parties appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the settlement agreement was signed June 22, 1998.