GE to Pay New York $13.5m for Upstate Waste Contamination

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By Lars-Eric Hedberg

General Electric will pay New York $13.5 million to resolve its potential liabilities at a contaminated upstate site, after the parties reached an agreement.

Magistrate Judge Christian F. Hummel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York signed off on the consent decree July 14 ( New York v. Gen. Elec. Co. , N.D.N.Y., No. 1:14-cv-00747, 7/14/17 ).

The agreement protects GE from further monetary contributions under Section 113(f)(2) of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and dismissed all state hazardous waste law claims. The agreement also helps the parties avoid “prolonged and complicated litigation” spawned by the statute.

The state sought over $30 million from GE for costs it incurred responding to releases of hazardous substances into soil and groundwater at the site.

GE contracted with Richard Alkes, the former owner of 53 Luzerne Road in Queensbury, N.Y., to remove scrapped capacitors, which are electrical components, and dispose of them on the property. Alkes cut open the capacitors to salvage the metals, releasing polychlorinated biphenyls and other hazardous substances into the soil, according to the state’s complaint. He buried parts of the capacitors he couldn’t salvage in shallow pits.

In 1979, the state built a cell on an adjacent property at 51 Luzerne, and disposed of soil and capacitors there. The cell, however, reached capacity before the state could add all the contaminated waste. In 2008, the state Department of Environmental Conservation began to implement a permanent remedy for the entire 55-acre site, which included some off-site disposal of PCB-contaminated soil.

In a March 31 decision and order, the court ruled that a question of fact existed as to whether GE arranged for disposal of hazardous waste at the site.

GE did not respond to Bloomberg BNA’s request for comment in time for publication.

Greenberg Traurig represented GE. The Office of Attorney General represented the state.

For More Information

The consent decree is available at http://src.bna.com/qRG.

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