Spitzer And Dec File $3.3 Million Suit For Clean-up Of Contaminated Bronx Site

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner John P. Cahill today announced the filing of a multi-million lawsuit to recover $1 million in costs already spent by the DEC to clean up a heavily contaminated industrial site in the Bronx. The Hexagon Laboratories site, located near Boston Post Road and Co-op City, was used as a chemical manufacturing facility and has had a long history of chemical spills and numerous violations of state and federal law. The State is also seeking the removal of contaminated soil from the site at an estimated cost of $2.2 million.

The suit against Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, a major German chemical company, and four of its affiliates, seeks to recover cleanup costs incurred by DEC. Hexagon Laboratories, a former subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim, owned and operated the site from 1975 to 1981, when spills and the disposal of wastes occurred at the site. The investigation determined that the soils at the site contained numerous toxic chemicals. In 1990, the NYPD's Bomb Squad removed explosives, poisons and compressed gas cylinders from the site.

"The owners of this site showed no regard for those living nearby and have taken no responsibility for the problems they have created," Spitzer said. "By working together, our office and the DEC will hold the polluters responsible and require them to reimburse New York taxpayers for site cleanup costs, as they should do."

"DEC is firmly committed to removing potential health and environmental threats stemming from the contamination of this site," Commissioner Cahill said. "Those responsible for the contamination must be held accountable, and we will continue to with the Attorney General's office to seek reimbursement and relieve taxpayers of the burden of paying for the cleanup costs."

Also named in the suit were successors to the Monsanto Company, Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia Corporation, because Monsanto had contracted with the Hexagon to process a large volume of chemicals, which resulted in the generation of wastes that contaminated the soil.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Eugene Martin-Leff, of Spitzer's Environmental Protection Bureau, under the supervision of bureau chief Peter Lehner.