Having been reorganized after more than a decade under court protection, W.R. Grace & Co. has now paid more than $63 million to the federal government under its bankruptcy plan to fund environmental cleanup efforts at dozens of sites across the country. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) received $54 million to cover cleanup costs at Superfund sites in 21 states. The remaining $9 million went to other federal agencies, the DOJ said in a joint statement with EPA. Robert G. Dreher, an official in the DOJ’s Environment and Natural Resources Division said:
Communities across the United States will benefit from this payment of present and future cleanup costs. The Justice Department is committed to holding polluters responsible for their environmental legacy, and won’t just walk away leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.
The announcement came less than 48 hours after the Columbia, Md.-based chemical conglomerate officially emerged from bankruptcy. A Delaware bankruptcy judge signed off on a $1.55 billion financing package designed to fund Grace’s exit from bankruptcy. W.R. Grace entered Chapter 11 in April 2001 in the wake of more than 129,000 asbestos-related lawsuits over its mining and manufacturing operations. The EPA entered the bankruptcy proceedings in 2003, filing claims for past and future cleanup costs at locations contaminated by the company’s asbestos and other hazardous substances. W.R. Grace and the agency agreed to various settlements resolving the environmental liabilities between April 2008 and February 2013.
Among the 39 Superfund sites that will receive some of the cleanup money are Amber Oil in Milwaukee; Galaxy/Spectron in Elkton, Md.; Harrington Tools in Glendale, Calif.; Vermiculite Northwest in Spokane, Wash.; and a W.R. Grace site in Weedsport, N.Y. Under a separate 2008 settlement, W.R. Grace has already paid the EPA $250 million to remediate asbestos contamination in the town of Libby, Mont., where it once ran a mine.
W.R. Grace had been in Chapter 11 for more than three years since the bankruptcy court confirmed its Chapter 11 plan, which includes the establishment of two trusts to provide compensation to thousands of people who claim they suffered personal injury or property damage as a result of asbestos-containing products manufactured by the company. A Delaware district court judge approved the plan in January 2012, and the Third Circuit rejected certain appeals to the confirmation order in November 2013.
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