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Enforcement

Case Summary: Agreement results in $18.75 million for cleanup work and $500,000 for natural resources restoration at Ohio Superfund site

On September 9, 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the departments of Justice and Interior, and the state of Ohio announced that Rutgers Organics Corporation (Rutgers) agreed to complete the cleanup of the Nease Chemical Superfund Site (Site) near Salem, Ohio, estimated to cost $18.75 million.

Under the consent decree, Rutgers also agrees to restore injured natural resources at the site and nearby areas, at a cost of approximately $500,000. Further, Rutgers will reimburse federal and state agencies for past response and assessment costs of about $1 million.

“This settlement will protect human health and the environment in northeast Ohio by reducing the risk of exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. EPA looks forward to working with our federal and state partners to clean up the site and restore the Little Beaver Creek watershed.”  U.S. EPA Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan

On this page:

Information about Rutgers Organics Corporation

Rutgers Organics Corporation acquired the assets of Nease Chemical, which ceased operations in 1973. Rutgers, located in State College, Penn. supplies specialty chemicals and operates as chemical wholesalers.

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Information about the Nease Chemical Superfund Site

The 44-acre Nease Chemical Site is located near Salem in Columbiana County, Ohio. Between 1961 and 1973, Nease Chemical produced various chemical compounds, including household cleaning compounds, fire retardants and pesticides, most notably Mirex, a probable human carcinogen. Facility operations contaminated soil and groundwater with hazardous substances. Surface water runoff also carried contamination into the Middle Fork of Little Beaver Creek, which is an important natural resource in the region. The site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) on 9/30/83.

More information about this site is available from the Nease Chemical Superfund site profile sheet.

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Information on pollutants and environmental effects

The primary contaminant in the soil is Mirex, a pesticide and fire retardant. Studies of the creek showed contamination of fish, sediments, and adjacent floodplains with Mirex. The Ohio Department of Health issued a health advisory against fishing and swimming along certain portions of the creek in the late 1980s. Dairy herds on a few nearby farms were also potentially affected by Mirex through exposure to creek and floodplain contamination. Access restrictions appear to have been effective, and Mirex has not been detected in dairy herds. A 2004 endangerment assessment indicated no unacceptable human health risks at that time, although exposure to contaminants in the future could pose unacceptable risks.

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Summary of the consent decree

Under the settlement, Rutgers agrees to implement EPA’s Operable Unit 2 cleanup remedy at the site by capping soil and treating the ponds and ground water. Rutgers also agrees to implement EPA’s Operable Unit 3 cleanup remedy at the site by removing contaminated sediment and floodplain soil and replacing it with clean material. The total cleanup, including long term operations and maintenance, is estimated to cost $18.75 million. The contamination released from the chemical plant has injured natural resources in and around the site, including the underlying groundwater aquifers which have become unusable as a source of potable water. As part of the settlement, Rutgers will remove a low-head dam, known as the Lisbon Dam on the MFLBC, and restore adjacent streamside habitat, which is expected to help establish a free-flowing stream with a healthy and diverse fish population. Rutgers will also fund a $366,000 trust to conserve a variety of lands in the Little Beaver Creek watershed, especially lands that are subject to pressures from new development in the area, to help provide valuable habitat. The trust will also seek to conserve property to protect local drinking water source areas from further contamination. Finally, Rutgers will reimburse the federal and state agencies for their past response and assessment costs, totaling approximately $1 million, and will reimburse the agencies for all future oversight and assessment costs.

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Comment Period

The Rutgers consent decree, filed on September 9, 2016 with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, was subject to a 30-day public comment period. The Motion to Enter was filed on November 4, 2016.

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Contact Information

For more information, contact

Christopher Grubb
Associate Regional Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 5
Ralph Metcalfe Federal Building
77 West Jackson Blvd.
Chicago, IL 60604-3590
312 886-7187
Grubb.christopher@epa.gov

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