Companies including Rolls-Royce (LSE:RR) and Black & Decker (NYSE:SWK) have agreed to pay in excess of $1.1 million to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the clean up of hazardous materials, including magnesium waste, at the former Remacor hazardous materials processing site in West Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, the DOJ said in a court filing.
In the years between 1975 and 2006, Remacor accepted magnesium fines, turnings, shavings and some solid magnesium scrap from customers, including 16 companies that will help pay for the clean up. Remacor recycled the magnesium into products that it sold to the steel industry.
The DOJ notes in its suit that Remacor improperly stored process waste and magnesium waste from the companies involved in the settlement. “The poor storage and disposal practices of process wastes and shipped magnesium wastes at the site led to spills, leaks, runoff into nearby rivers, and [to] chemical fires at the site,” states the DOJ’s suit.
Magnesium can easily ignite in contact with water, and is more combustible the finer it is. Remacor ground magnesium into powder, and in 2005 that caused a fire that destroyed the main processing building. The fire was the last of several that the fire department fought at the site, The Sharon Herald reported in 2007. Still, the company accepted over 6 million pounds of magnesium waste after that, and in September the following year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania DEP carried out an emergency removal action at the site.
Remacor finally ceased operations in 2007. In order to pursue the entities that had submitted metals for disposal at the site, the DOJ cited federal law, under which someone that generates or owns hazardous substances and arranges for the disposal and treatment of such substances remains responsible when such substances are released. The settlement payment from the group of companies mentioned above amounts to about 11 percent of the $10.4 million in total costs that the government expects to incur for the clean up. In addition, private parties have incurred costs of about $5 million for the clean up, the DOJ said.
The entities that are part of the settlement contributed 6.3 percent of the hazardous waste at the site, which explains the discrepancy between the estimated costs of the clean up and the total settlement amount. Kirschbaum-Krupp Metal and Kirschbaum-Krupp Recycling and Winter’s Performance Products are liable for the largest payments — about $340,000 and $190,000, respectively. Rolls-Royce and Black & Decker have agreed to pay about $19,000 and $26,000.
Securities Disclosure: I, Ragnhild Kjetland, hold no investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.