EPA settles with WestRock CP for $4.6 million to reimburse cleanup costs at former wood treating plant
Margot Perez-Sullivan (email@example.com)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled with WestRock CP, LLC, which will pay $1.6 million in cash plus shares of stock valued at nearly $3 million as partial reimbursement for a hazardous waste cleanup near Prescott, Ariz.
The site is a former wood treating plant located on the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe reservation, and cleaned up by the EPA using its authority under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (the Superfund law). In 2012, EPA discovered significant amounts of arsenic and pentachlorophenol-contaminated material at the abandoned site. The Agency spent $6.1 million removing 4,209 tons of contaminated soil during a two-month-long cleanup.
“This unique settlement was structured to allow the Agency to receive corporate shares instead of a full cash payment,” said Enrique Manzanilla, Director of the Superfund Program for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office. “We are pleased to recover the majority of the taxpayer-provided funds spent on the environmental cleanup on tribal lands.”
The shares of stock being transferred to the Agency include 56,064 shares in WestRock CP, LLC’s parent company, WestRock Company, and 9,344 shares of a newly established spin-off company, Ingevity Corporation. The EPA will sell the stock once the settlement is finalized in federal District Court. The combined stock current value is $2,998,406.
Southwest Forest Industries Inc. operated the wood treating plant from 1961-1985, and a successor company, Smurfit-Stone Container Enterprises, Inc. went bankrupt, leaving the cleanup obligations with the current corporate successor, Westrock, CP LLC, a manufacturer of paperboard and paper-based packaging.
Pentachlorophenol, an industrial wood preservative, is extremely toxic and can cause neurological, blood, and liver effects, and eye irritation in the short term and long term impacts on the respiratory tract, blood, kidney, liver, immune system, eyes, nose, and skin. Arsenic, used to formulate a common wood preservative, can cause gastrointestinal effects, anemia, peripheral neuropathy, skin lesions, hyperpigmentation, and liver or kidney damage in humans.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period. To view the consent decree or to submit comments, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-v-westrock-cp-llc