CFAC suit shouldn’t stall cleanup

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A lawsuit filed by the Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. against the Atlantic Richfield Co. over cleanup of the old aluminum plant site won’t likely delay the actual cleanup, project manager Mike Cirian of the Environmental Protection Agency said last week.

Cirian noted that the remedial investigation and feasibility study of the site is still a couple of years from being completed.

That study is expected to determine the best way to clean up the old aluminum plant and its associated landfills and dumps.

By then, the suit could very well have wound its well through the federal court system.

CFAC has already agreed to spend $4 million on the remedial investigation and feasibility study. Its suit, in turn, seeks to recoup at least some of those costs, plus future costs, in its case against Arco.

Cirian said the suit is not uncommon in Superfund cleanups. The Superfund law, known formally as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, allows for such suits.

In the case of the Libby asbestos cleanup, for example, its was the EPA that suit the W.R. Grace Co. for cleanup costs.

The EPA received $250 million from Grace in 2008.

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