State Gets $1.1 Million For Cleanup Of Greene County Toxic Site

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin M. Crotty today announced a settlement that will ensure the cleanup of the American Valve toxic waste site in Coxsackie, Greene County.

The state is settling a lawsuit with American Valve Manufacturing Corporation (which operated a foundry in Coxsackie) its corporate successor, American Valve, Inc. (a North Carolina corporation), and two corporate officers, Jack Guterman and Frederick Guterman. After the Coxsackie site closed, the American Valve business continued in North Carolina.

"This case sends a strong message that polluters who abandon contaminated sites cannot escape their legal obligations to clean up by moving to another state," Attorney General Spitzer said.

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "The State Department of Environmental Conservation has implemented a remedy to treat contaminated soil and groundwater at this former industrial site and ensure that the public health and the environment are protected. We are pleased that under this settlement, the polluter is being held responsible for its actions."

Village of Coxsackie Mayor Henry Rausch said: "The residents of Coxsackie are delighted that this toxic site is finally being cleaned up and being made ready for future development."

American Valve Manufacturing Corp. operated a foundry and manufacturing facility at the Coxsackie site from the 1920's until 1988, when the company shut its doors, leaving behind a facility that was contaminated with lead and perchloroethylene. Lead is known to cause learning disabilities and a range of neurological problems. Perchloroethylene, a toxic solvent, is known to cause damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and liver.

After American Valve abandoned the site, DEC developed and undertook a cleanup plan, which is expected to be completed this fall. During the past year, DEC contractors have demolished abandoned buildings on the property containing lead and asbestos and have treated contaminated soil on the property.

When the cleanup is complete, the 15-acre American Valve site will be turned over to the Village of Coxsackie. In addition to paying $1.1 million toward cleanup costs, the defendants will issue an apology to Coxsackie within 10 days for having abandoned a toxic waste site in the middle of the community. The state calculated this payment based on the defendants’ liability for the contamination and their financial condition.

The total cost to clean up the site is estimated at $5.3 million, with the balance coming from the state Superfund program. The settlement was approved on May 31 by Judge David N. Hurd of the United States District Court in Utica.

Assistant Attorney General Michael J. Myers and DEC Counsel Michael J. Lesser are handling the case.