Friday, December 16, 2016

$50 M Settlement In Chesapeake Bay Area Mercury Spill

Actually, it wasn't so much a spill, as long term releases back before anyone understood the serious nature of the  problem: DuPont to pay $50M over mercury-contaminated Virginia rivers
Chemical giant DuPont will pay more than $50 million but admit no fault under a proposed environmental settlement after releasing toxic mercury for decades that made its way into Shenandoah Valley waterways, state and federal officials announced Thursday.

The deal would resolve alleged violations of civil environmental statutes, including the Clean Water Act, related to the pollution from a company factory in Waynesboro. It would amount to the largest environmental damage settlement in Virginia history and the eighth largest in the nation, officials said. The money would go to projects including wildlife habitat restoration, water quality enhancement and improvements to recreational areas.

"In bringing this settlement to a close, we are finally righting a wrong that has impacted the South River and the South Fork of the Shenandoah River for so many decades," Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said at a news conference announcing the settlement.

Wilmington, Delaware-based Dupont Co. used mercury in its process of making synthetic fiber at the plant between 1929 and 1950, according to the state Department of Environmental Quality. Strict storage and disposal regulations weren't in place at the time, and some of the mercury seeped into the South River and flowed downstream to the South Fork of the Shenandoah River.

DuPont discovered the mercury — which accumulates in fish and is especially dangerous to pregnant or breastfeeding women and young children — in the facility's soil in 1976, officials say.

The pollution impacted over 100 miles of river and thousands of acres of floodplain and riparian habitat, affecting fish, mussels, migratory birds and amphibians, the Department of Justice said in a statement. The pollution also has limited some recreational fishing in Waynesboro, a city of about 20,000 in the Shenandoah Valley.

The terms of the settlement are outlined in a proposed consent decree that was filed in federal court in Harrisonburg on Thursday. It is subject to a 45-day public comment period and must be approved by the court.
When the City of Reading, PA lost 5 tons of mercury into the Schuylkill River over many years of using them as bearings in the trickling filters of their sewage treatment plants, the EPA made the city fund a study of the problem, and replace the mercury with another system.

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