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Post date: June 24 2008

Attorney General Cuomo Announces $1.2 Million Settlement For Dumping Hazardous Waste At Orleans County Landfill

BUFFALO, N.Y. (June 24, 2008) – Attorney General Cuomo today announced a $1.2 million settlement with eight companies – including A&P, Quaker Oats, Fisher Price and Newell Rubbermaid – to reimburse the state for cleanup costs incurred at an Orleans County landfill.

The settlement was entered by United States District Judge William Skretny, requiring the eight corporations that disposed of hazardous waste at the Yager Road landfill in Albion to pay back the state for its cleanup. The landfill was designated a state Superfund site by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) due to high levels of toxic chemicals including lead, arsenic and the industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) that were released to soils, surface waters and groundwater. 

 “For years, this landfill was a repository for hazardous waste and an ongoing threat to the health of the surrounding community,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “My office took action to ensure that taxpayer funds used to cleanup the mess are reimbursed. Thanks to the DEC and my office’s hard work, the site is secure and the companies who put the waste there are paying back the money owed. My office remains committed to working to hold companies accountable for their pollution and we are pleased that these companies have done the right thing by agreeing to this settlement.”

“This is a good news ending to what has been a long-running story in the Albion community," said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “Not only has the landfill been capped but also taxpayers are being reimbursed. This settlement demonstrates that DEC and the Attorney General are committed to protecting public health and taxpayers' money.” 

The dangers of heavy metals like lead and arsenic, and solvents such as TCE are well documented. For example, low levels of lead are toxic, especially to young children and can cause a variety of permanent developmental and behavioral problems. TCE can cause nerve, kidney, and liver damage as well cancer in people exposed to it.

The landfill, which operated in the 1970s and 80s primarily under the operation of Alan McKenna, was named a hazardous waste site under New York State’s Superfund program in 1991.  The landfill was capped and a system to prevent any further releases was put in place in 2002.

In November 2007, Attorney General Cuomo’s Office sued the eight companies -- Quaker Oats Company (successor to Fisher Price), Newell Rubbermaid, A&P, Pneumo Abex, Saint Gobain-Technical Fabrics America (successor to Bayex), Conopco, Avon Injected Rubber & Plastics and Owens-Illinois -- seeking reimbursement of any and all costs incurred by the State in preventing the release of hazardous substances from the site into the neighboring community.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Linda White of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau under the supervision of Special Deputy Attorney General for Environmental Protection Katherine Kennedy.