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Enforcement

Case Summary: OXY USA Agrees to Settlements Valued at $50 Million for Work at Tennessee Superfund Site

On April 22, 2016, EPA announced settlement agreements valued at approximately $50 million for cleanup work and reimbursement of past cleanup costs at the Copper Basin Mining District Superfund Site in Polk County, Tenn. Under the terms of two concurrent consent decrees, OXY USA agreed to:

  • Spend approximately $40 million to clean up contaminated water and sediments in the Ocoee River and one of its watersheds at the site.
  • Reimburse EPA approximately $10.8 million for costs associated with cleanup work at the site. The reimbursement settlement agreement was negotiated with multiple federal agencies, the state of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and OXY USA.

One of the main environmental benefits from these two consent decrees is improved water quality of the Ocoee River. Businesses and residents of the local area depend on tourism from its seasonal rafting industry. The remedy will ensure the continued treatment of water from the Davis Mill Creek and maintain the water quality of the Ocoee River.

Including the value of the two 2016 consent decrees, and work previously performed at the site, more than $217 million is being devoted to the cleanup of the Copper Basin Mining District Superfund site.

On this page:

Information about OXY USA Inc.

OXY USA Inc. is a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Corporation. The company conducts exploration, production, and marketing of crude oil and natural gas and is based in Houston, Texas.

Information about the Copper Basin Mining District Superfund Site

From the mid-1800s to 1989, the Copper Basin Mining District Superfund Site was the location of extensive copper, iron, and sulfur mining operations, mineral processing, and sulfuric acid production. These operations generated numerous wastes, including sulfuric acid, lead, mercury, and PCBs, which impacted a 50-square-mile area of land, the North Potato Creek and Davis Mill Creek watersheds, and 26 miles of the Ocoee River.

Cleanup work at this site began more than 25 years ago. As of April 2016, 535,231 kilograms of hazardous waste, oil, equipment and soil contaminated with lead and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been removed from the site and properly disposed. In addition, more than 67 billion gallons of water have been treated at two water treatment plants.

For more information on the site, please visit the Copper Basin Mining District site profile page.

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Summary of the consent decrees

Under earlier cleanup agreements between OXY USA, EPA and the state of Tennessee, OXY constructed and installed a system to collect and treat contaminated water and sediments from the Davis Mill Creek watershed prior to discharge into the Ocoee River. Under the two new consent decrees, OXY will continue to operate and maintain the water treatment system, prevent access by the public to contaminated water, and monitor contamination on the Ocoee River. The work is consistent with the cleanup remedy required by EPA’s 2011 and 2014 records of decision for the Ocoee River and the Davis Mill Creek watershed respectively. The value of this work, plus reimbursement for oversight costs incurred by EPA and the state, is estimated at $50 million.

Under the new consent decrees, the United States also agreed, on behalf of the Department of Defense and Department of Commerce, to pay OXY USA Inc. approximately $12.6 million, for their liability at the site. The liability of these federal PRPs was based primarily on the United States’ ownership and operation of a portion of the site between 1941 and 1946.

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Contact information

For more information, contact

Bilal Harris
Associate Regional Counsel
Office of Regional Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Region 4
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA  30303
(404) 562-8493
harris.bilal@epa.gov

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