(CN) – Bayer CropScience and Pharmacia, a division of Pfizer, have agreed to pay $4.25 million to settle environmental claims at the toxic Industri-plex Superfund site in Woburn, Mass.
The Department of Justice announced the settlement Thursday, the same day it and Massachusetts filed separate federal complaints that asked the companies to cover environmental damages caused by over a century of contamination from the site.
Beginning with glue rendering in 1853, the site has been used for toxic industrial activities such as hide tanning, munitions manufacturing and lead-arsenic insecticide production.
Redevelopment in the 1970s released long-buried toxins including hundred-year-old animal hides that were dumped into swampy areas of the site. Once resurfaced, they released hydrogen sulfide gas into the air and leached chemicals into nearby wetlands.
By the 1980s, when the Environmental Protection Agency added Industri-plex to its Superfund cleanup list, toxins like lead, arsenic and chromium from the site had polluted the nearby Aberjona River, its wetlands and the Mystic Lakes.
Since 1998, when 110 acres of the site were covered with a cap to prevent contact with contaminated soil, a regional transportation center, a Target store, an office park and a Residence Inn have been built on the site adjacent to an interchange with Interstate 93.
Pharmacia and Bayer are subject to two previous consent decrees with the Environmental Protection Agency concerning cleanup at the site. The current consent decree applies specifically to environmental damage caused to offsite areas.
Under its terms, $3.8 million will be apportioned to remediation projects, while federal and state trustees will split $400,000 to cover the cost of environmental damage assessments.
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