INDIANAPOLIS (CN) – The state appeals court reversed a judgment that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management had breached a cleanup agreement with a plant operator by reneging on the lowered contamination standards.
Water tests revealed that polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, existed downstream but not upstream from a plant in Crawfordsville, Ind., that manufactures automobile brakes and clutches.
IDEM approved a risk assessment submitted by plant operator Raybestos Products Co. but later rejected the company’s proposed cleanup plan, which allowed certain “hot spots” to have PCB levels of 238 parts per million. The agency also withdrew its approval of the risk assessment, fearing it would set a bad precedent. IDEM then convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to order Raybestos to clean up the PCBs to a level of no more than 10 ppm.
After Raybestos successfully sued for breach of contract, the appeals court reversed, ruling that company’s proposed cleanup “did not meet applicable federal standards.”
“We fail to see how IDEM had any authority to approve a cleanup which did not comply with these standards,” Judge Mathias wrote. See ruling in IDEM v. Raybestos Products Co.