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Great Lakes Article:

Firms could ‘cash out’ on Fox PCB cleanup
Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers

GREEN BAY - Seven paper companies on the hook for cleanup of the PCB-contaminated Fox River could write a check for cleanup costs and walk away under a "cash-out" provision of the Superfund law that guides the cleanup.

"This is an option," said Ed Lynch, cleanup project manager for the state Department of Natural Resources.

A negotiated cash-out settlement requires responsible parties to provide up-front money for cleanup costs for work that will be conducted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

The cash-out option is one of several issues ripe for consideration after regulators in July released a final Record of Decision. That decision made official a $400 million cleanup plan issued in 2001.

The option could allow the companies to focus on papermaking. But a cash-out settlement won’t be the EPA’s first choice.

"We really prefer for the companies to do the work," said Jim Hahnenberg of the EPA.

Tim Dantoin, a spokesman for the paper companies, declined to comment.

Rebecca Katers of the Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin, doesn’t like the cash-out option if there’s potential it would let the companies off the hook for escalating costs.

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