PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management has reached a settlement with regard to natural resource damages sustained at the Davis Liquid Waste Superfund Site in Smithfield. A Consent Decree was filed on March 20 in U.S. District Court for Rhode Island between DEM, the RI Attorney General's Office, and the following Settling Defendants: Ashland Inc.; the Black and Decker Corporation; FKI Industries, Inc. f/k/a Acco-Bristol Division of Babcock Industries, Inc.; Bristol, Inc.; Morton International, LLC; Rohm and Haas Company; and Life Technologies Corporation.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Settling Defendants will make an initial payment of $750,000 to the State within 30 days of final entry of the Consent Decree. The funds will be deposited into DEM's Emergency Response Fund and will be used for investigation and enforcement of future natural resource damage claims, restoration and/or assessments within DEM's Superfund and brownfields programs. The State negotiated with representatives of the Settling Defendants for over a year to reach this agreement, and will allocate these monies to future projects that protect or restore Rhode Island's groundwater resources. Additional payments from the Settling Defendants to the State may be required if, following treatment, the contaminated groundwater that remains at the Davis site cannot be brought up to State drinking water standards.
"In the U.S. Senate I focused on Superfund hazardous waste sites in Rhode Island, and as a result I witnessed the tremendous destruction of natural resources at the Davis site on several occasions," noted Governor Lincoln Chafee. "I am therefore pleased that, at long last, we can look forward to a resolution of this long-standing matter for the benefit of all Rhode Islanders."
"The Department is pleased with the terms of this negotiated settlement which, if approved by the Court, will compensate the State for damages to groundwater and other natural resources at the Davis Superfund site in Smithfield," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "The Consent Decree is another step in our efforts to hold parties responsible for their acts. DEM looks forward to using these monies and working with our partners to strengthen protective measures that safeguard Rhode Island's finite groundwater and drinking water aquifers.
"The settlement announced today is evidence of the ongoing efforts of the Attorney General's Office, on behalf of the citizens of Rhode Island, to protect the environment and ensure that those who injure or destroy our state's precious natural resources will be held accountable," said Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin. "The settlement should put those who wish to harm the environment on notice that the state will work tirelessly to protect and preserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations." This action by the State comes a little over a year after a settlement was entered into between U.S. EPA, RI Attorney General, DEM, the U.S. Department of Justice and the same Settling Defendants requiring them to implement and finance the groundwater cleanup which was caused by years of chemical waste being dumped at the site.
The 10-acre Davis Liquid Waste Superfund site is located in a rural area of Smithfield. Throughout the 1970s, the Site accepted liquid and chemical wastes such as paint and metal sludges, oily wastes, solvents, acids, caustics, pesticides, phenols, halogens, metals, fly ash, and laboratory pharmaceuticals. Liquid wastes were transported in drums and bulk tank trucks, and were dumped directly into unlined lagoons and seepage pits. The operator periodically excavated the semi-solid lagoon materials, dumped these materials at several locations on the Site, and covered them with soil. Other operations included the collection of salvaged vehicles and machine parts, metal recycling, and tire shredding. During the mid-1970s, local officials received complaints from nearby residents about chemical odors in their private water supply. The drinking water wells were found contaminated by a variety of chemicals. In 1983, EPA added the Site to the Superfund National Priorities List.
Clean up of the Davis site has been complex and time consuming and has included installation of the Davis Waterline, treatment of almost 30,000 yards of contaminated soil, and the removal of buried hazardous waste drums and over six million discarded tires. Exposure risks to residents from contaminated groundwater have been minimized since homes in the area are now on public water.
Treatment of contaminated groundwater on the site is currently underway, and this settlement in no way impedes or delays that work. Currently, DEM is working with US EPA on the following pre-design field investigations on-site: installation of overburden and bedrock groundwater wells; performing the Mixed Slurry Microcosm bench-scale testing; surface water sampling; and the evaluation of the treated backfill leachability and risk assessment.