State Secures $6 Million To Clean Up Bronx Hazardous Waste Site

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan today announced that the state has reached agreements with 31 companies for the cleanup of the Hexagon Laboratories hazardous waste site in the Bronx. Payments from the companies, including the value of construction work they are providing, exceed $6 million and will cover most of the cleanup costs.

"It is only fair that those who made money in operations that polluted this site now contribute to its cleanup," said Attorney General Spitzer. "Once this site is fully cleaned up, it can be put to new uses that will help revitalize the community."

DEC Commissioner Sheehan said: "New York State continues to be committed to holding polluters responsible for the natural resources and community impacts their actions can cause. The parties responsible for the Hexagon contamination will be required to clean up the contamination, under DEC oversight, to ensure that when the cleanup is complete, it is fully protective of public health and the environment."

Hexagon Laboratories occupied a one-acre site at 3536 Peartree Avenue in the Bronx, between Boston Post Road and Heathcote Avenue. The company made pharmaceuticals and organic chemicals there from the mid-1940's through 1989. There were numerous chemical spills at the site. In 1990, the New York City Police Department Bomb Squad removed explosives, water-reactive metals, poisons and compressed gas cylinders from the property.

The soil and groundwater at the site were contaminated by a range of hazardous wastes that pose a threat to the public health and the environment, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, chlorinated volatile organics, phenolic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCBs.

The DEC determined that the Hexagon site posed a significant threat to public health and the environment in 1993 and placed it on the State Superfund Registry.

In 1997 and 1998, the DEC removed asbestos, petroleum tanks and some contaminated soil and demolished several buildings at a cost of approximately $1 million. The most costly elements of the cleanup are being conducted under the settlements announced today, including the excavation and removal of an extensive amount of contaminated soil and, later this year, a project for cleaning contaminated groundwater.

The cleanup settlements, which were approved by Judge Richard C. Casey, require two-thirds of the cleanup costs to be paid by Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation and its affiliates, Solutia Inc. (formerly the Monsanto Company), Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation and 28 additional companies. In addition, it requires Boehringer Ingelheim to contribute $50,000 to Pelham Bay Park for environmental benefit projects. The remainder of the cleanup will be funded by the State Superfund, which was re-authorized and refinanced by Governor Pataki and the State Legislature in 2003.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Eugene Leff of the Attorney General's Environmental Protection Bureau and DEC Senior Attorney Rosalie Rusinko.