Pfizer to Pay $194M for Environmental Cleanup

     TRENTON, N.J. (CN) – A division of pharmaceutical company Pfizer settled with environmental regulators Tuesday, agreeding to pay $194 million in cleanup costs related to groundwater and soil contamination.
     The U.S. government had sued Pfizer subsidiary Wyeth for its role in manufacturing chemicals at a site in Bridgewater, N.J., which in 1983 was designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as a Superfund site. The 575-acre Cyanamid site has a “history of industrial pollution dating back to 1915,” regulators said.
     They identified heavy metals, benzene and chlorobenzene as having seeped from waste-storage units into the soil.
     As part of Tuesday’s consent decree Wyeth, which Pfizer acquired in 2009, will help remediate contaminated soil and groundwater at six disposal areas, and collect and treat contaminated groundwater to prevent it from seeping into nearby waterways, including the Raritan River. The EPA will also test the soil and water, as well as verify Wyeth’s independent analyses, according to the settlement.
     The consent decree, which is now open for a 30-day comment period, also dedicates $1 million of the settlement amount will be dedicated to past EPA clean-up at the site.
     “We cannot leave unaddressed the toxic legacies of the past like American Cyanamid’s site in Bridgewater Township,” Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said in a statement. “This agreement will help protect waterways from seeping contaminated groundwater and makes significant progress towards closing waste disposal areas at the site.”
     Pfizer inherited the site from Wyeth when it acquired that company. Wyeth bought the site in 1994 from American Cyanamid, which had manufactured dye and organic chemicals there since 1929 used in such products as Old Spice deodorant and Pine-Sol cleaner.
     In 1981, it was determined by the EPA that the 877,000 tons of waste contained in the disposal impoundments at the site were contaminating nearby soils. It was placed on the Superfund list two years later.
     The Sierra Club called the consent order a “cap” and pointed to seepage from the site in 2010 into the Raritan River.
     “There needs to be a complete clean-up of the site removing the 900,000 tons of waste materials and other toxins that are on the site,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

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