"Lyondell Leaves Kalamazoo Poisoned as Bankruptcies Mar Cleanups"

"Environmentalist Jeff Spoelstra says an 80-mile stretch of the Kalamazoo River that runs through toxin-laced land in southwestern Michigan was on its way to becoming safe again. The area, once home to Potawatomi Indians and Dutch celery farmers, was finally on the verge of getting cleaned up.

Then, in January 2009, Lyondell Chemical Co. filed for bankruptcy protection. The Houston-based petrochemical giant argued in court that as it reorganized, it could avoid what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said were about $2.5 billion in cleanup costs for the river, which flows into Lake Michigan, and another $2.5 billion in liabilities at 10 other polluted spots across the country.

The filing threw the EPA’s plan into turmoil, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its May issue.

About 47,000 hazardous waste sites were fouling U.S. air, land and water at the end of 2007, the latest EPA figures show. States, reeling from $196 billion in deficits this year, can’t handle the cleanup costs. And the federal Superfund, created by Congress in 1980 to go after polluters at the worst sites and foot the bill when they couldn’t pay, fell to about $1.3 billion in 2007 from about $1.5 billion in 1999."

Tiffany Kary reports for Bloomberg April 7, 2010.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010