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PA Bulletin, Doc. No. 09-1112


Quehanna Wild Area Nuclear Site Moshannon State Forest, Clearfield County; Notice of Proposed Settlement

[39 Pa.B. 3137]
[Saturday, June 20, 2009]

   Under section 1113 of the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) (35 P. S. § 6020.1113), notice is given by the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) that the Department has entered into a proposed settlement with Atlantic Richfield Company, for the reimbursement of certain response costs incurred by the Commonwealth, for response actions taken at the Quehanna Wild Area Nuclear Site in Clearfield County, PA (Site).

   From the 1950s to the 2000s, this Site was the location of a facility at which radioactive materials were processed, stored, handled, and more recently, remediated, under Federal licenses from the Atomic Energy Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). During that time span, a number of businesses, including Atlantic Richfield Company and related entities (Atlantic Richfield), conducted activities at the Site utilizing radioactive and other materials. For almost all of this 50+ year period, the Site has been owned by the Commonwealth and managed by Commonwealth agencies. Since the mid-1990s, the Site has been managed by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

   The Site activities that involved radioactive materials included operation of a pool-type research reactor in the 1950s; research and development activities associated with a variety of applications, including, but not limited to, the manufacture of prototype thermoelectric generators using strontium-90 (Sr-90) in the early and mid-1960s; encapsulation of sealed sources of cobalt-60 (Co-60) and other radionuclides in the late 1960s and part of the 1970s; and operation of irradiators for food and wood irradiation and other processes from the 1960s to 2002.

   For more than 15 years, the Department has been coordinating Site cleanup activities. The cleanup is virtually complete. The cleanup activities have included removal and offsite disposal of all regulated radioactive materials; demolition of all Site structures; and extensive monitoring and sampling to ensure that the Site meets NRC requirements. The Commonwealth's cleanup expenditures exceed $30 million.

   In 2003 and 2004, the Commonwealth and the United States entered into agreements under which the United States reimbursed the Commonwealth for $10 million of the Commonwealth's cleanup expenditures. Recently, the Department has filed two lawsuits in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania in which the Department seeks payment of the remaining unreimbursed cleanup expenditures. One lawsuit is against Lockheed Martin Corporation, which the Department contends is liable for those Site expenditures relating to the cleanup of Sr-90. The civil action number of that lawsuit is 1:09-CV-0821. In that action, the Department seeks in excess of $20 million.

   This notice is about the second lawsuit. The second lawsuit is against Atlantic Richfield Company, in which the Department seeks to recover from Atlantic Richfield the Site expenditures relating to the cleanup of Co-60. The civil action number of that lawsuit is 1:09-CV-0913. In that action, the Department contends that Atlantic Richfield is liable for the Site expenditures relating to the cleanup of Co-60. The Department has asserted that the expenditures for the cleanup of Co-60 were at least $1,450,000. The Department and Atlantic Richfield have agreed to a proposed Consent Decree that resolves the second lawsuit and any other claims that the Commonwealth could have made against Atlantic Richfield relating to the Site cleanup and reimbursement of the Commonwealth's cleanup expenditures.

   The primary terms of the proposed Consent Decree are that Atlantic Richfield shall pay the Department $995,000 for reimbursement of the Commonwealth's cleanup expenditures and that Atlantic Richfield receives contribution protection and cannot be sued by any other entity with respect to the Commonwealth's cleanup expenditures. In the proposed Consent Decree, which has been filed with and is subject to court approval, the Department and Atlantic Richfield have stated: (1) the proposed Consent Decree has been negotiated by the Department and Atlantic Richfield in good faith; (2) the settlement of this matter will avoid prolonged and complicated litigation between the Department and Atlantic Richfield; and (3) that the settlement is fair, reasonable, and in the public interest.

   Under section 1113 of the HSCA, the Department is providing a 60-day comment period on the proposed settlement commencing on the date of publication of this Notice. Interested persons may submit written comments to the Department which shall be addressed to Michael D. Buchwach, Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Chief Counsel, Rachel Carson State Office Building, 9th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8464. Copies of the proposed Consent Decree also may be obtained from Michael Buchwach. The Department has the right to withdraw its consent to the Consent Decree if comments concerning the Consent Decree disclose facts or considerations that indicate that the Consent Decree is inappropriate, improper, or not in the public interest.


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 09-1112. Filed for public inspection June 19, 2009, 9:00 a.m.]

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