United States of America v. Durham Manufacturing.: A federal court judge has finalized a $2.9 million settlement between Durham Manufacturing Co. and the state and federal government over the past costs of removing contaminated soil at what is known as the Durham Meadows Superfund site.
This is the second major settlement regarding the Durham Meadows location. Under the first settlement, reached in 2012, the Merriam Manufacturing Co. agreed to pay $20.1 million.
According to court documents, the Durham Meadows Superfund site consists of groundwater contamination generally centered on Main Street in Durham and industrial and residential properties in the area. Investigations of the Durham Meadows site have focused on several possible sources of contamination, including the former Merriam Manufacturing site and the current Durham Manufacturing site, both on Main Street.
Merriam Manufacturing, which dates to 1851, manufactured metal displays and boxes. The company disposed of wastewater containing dissolved organic solvents and paint wastes in lagoons from 1973 to 1982. In another area, paint wastes and degreasing solvents were stored on the ground in drums. Most of Merriam Manufacturing’s facilities burned in 1998, and the company has relocated its operations.
Durham Manufacturing, which has been around since 1922, also manufactures metal boxes. It disposed of wastewater and waste sludge containing paint waste and organic solvents into sludge drying beds. Waste has also been stored on that site in drums.
The site is less than a half-mile from the Coginchaug River to the west and currently borders Allyn Brook to the south. A freshwater wetland is located on the Durham Manufacturing property.
More than 100 homes and businesses are affected by the contamination. Many residents in the area use private wells. In 1982, the state Department of Environmental Protection detected contaminated water in private wells in the Durham area. The DEP ordered both companies to provide filtration systems for the water as well as provide bottled water to residents affected.
Environmental investigations into the groundwater contamination have been ongoing since 1982. The most recent work on the sites, which was completed in 2012, included the removal of contaminated soil.
Throughout 2013, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contractors conducted investigations, including drilling soil and taking samples, to assess the condition of the underlying soils.
According to the EPA, installing carbon filters on drinking water wells and removing some hazardous materials have reduced the potential for exposure to contaminants, making conditions safer for nearby businesses and residences while site studies are completed. Affected drinking water wells are monitored regularly by the companies and by the state.
The settlement agreements essentially pay back the government for the remediation work.
Under the terms of the latest settlement, Durham Manufacturing will pay the $2.9 million in four $725,000 installments over the next three years. The first payment has already been made. The company has also agreed to perform certain remaining work on the site. The work to be done is valued at $1.1 million.
The settlement was approved in U.S. District Court by Judge Michael Shea.•