Governor Ernie Fletcher’s Communications Office
State Settles Rockwell International Contamination Case
Company to pay record $10 million in penalties, projects
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Rockwell International Corp. will pay record penalties to settle a long-standing pollution case related to the release of cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from its former plant in Russellville, Governor Ernie Fletcher announced today.
The $10 million settlement includes a record payment to Kentucky of $2 million in civil penalties and a payment of $2.5 million in natural resource damages, also a record. The latter payment is in compensation for injury, destruction or loss of natural resources held in trust by the state.
“The settlement represents another step in a long process to address contamination at the former Rockwell facility,” said Governor Fletcher. “In addition to the penalties and natural resource damages, the settlement contains $3.5 million in local water and sewer projects to benefit citizens in the area and $2 million to improve environmental compliance across Kentucky.”
Until the mid 1970s, the Rockwell plant used hydraulic fluid containing PCBs. Some of the fluid entered groundwater, streams and rivers beneath and near the facility. Because PCBs persist in the environment, remediating their release is a lengthy process.
Rockwell sold the plant in 1989, but continues to address the contamination.
The water and sewer improvements to be funded by Rockwell are supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), which often are included in disposition of pollution cases.
The SEPs include:
- $1,625,000 to the city of Russellville to fund a sewer reconstruction project and partially fund a water project
- $906,250 to the city of Lewisburg for a sewer reconstruction project and a water distribution system project
- $531,250 to the East Logan Water District for system improvements
- $437,500 to North Logan Water District for system improvements
Rockwell also will fund a $2 million statewide environmental compliance assistance program to be conducted by the University of Kentucky under the oversight of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC). This program will provide assistance to small businesses, cities and other organizations in complying with air, water and waste requirements.
The former Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet – predecessor of the EPPC – obtained a judgment against Rockwell in Franklin Circuit Court in 1997 that found the company in violation of state environmental laws and regulations. Rockwell had begun cleanup and remediation activities in the mid-1980s, prior to closing the plant.
A decision on civil penalties was deferred until substantial cleanup and remediation had been accomplished. Rockwell has submitted regular monitoring results and reports to the cabinet.
The settlement does not restrict the EPPC from seeking further environmental studies and monitoring or additional cleanup should the cabinet conclude they are necessary.