Honeywell International agreed to pay $4 million to the state Department of Natural Resources, in a consent decree filed with the federal district court in Atlanta, for cleanup costs related to the LCP Chemicals Superfund site and compensation for lost recreational fishing opportunities because of chemical pollutants released into the marsh and nearby waterways.
The LCP site is presently undergoing several different stages of remediation under the federal Superfund law. The Environmental Protection Agency issued a long-term remedy for the marsh area of the site in 2015, and currently, the uplands area awaits a decision as the agency considers public comments regarding its proposed suggestion of no further action, with a restriction against residential use. The basis of that is extensive contaminated soil removal is already complete, and an intention for the site to continue being zoned for industrial use.
Work on handling groundwater and the soil under the former mercury cell buildings is a little more behind the process regarding the uplands, and is also ongoing.
As for the consent decree between DNR and Honeywell, all of the money is to go toward “restoration, rehabilitation or replacement of injured natural resources and/or acquisition of equivalent resources related to lost recreational uses.”
Pollution of the marsh and the creatures that live in it continues to be of a high enough nature to be dangerous for people to consume creatures caught there. Estuarine dolphins known to feed in the area have tested positive for unhealthy levels of PCBs and other contaminants that can be traced back to production at the LCP site.
The state doesn’t have a plan at present as to how the money is to be spent, however. DNR staff will select projects for funding after a period of public input, which has yet to be announced.
According to the consent decree, the state will create a “restoration plan describing how the funds dedicated for natural resources restoration efforts under this section will be used to restore lost recreational uses.
“The plan will identify how funds will be used for restoration, rehabilitation, replacement or acquisition of equivalent resources. The plan may also identify how funds will be used to address services lost to the public until restoration, rehabilitation, replacement and/or acquisition of equivalent resources is completed.”
There will be a project review team to determine which projects get funding, and it has to include one person from each of the five organizations — DNR’s Coastal Resources Division, Honeywell, the city of Brunswick, Glynn County and Finfish. The project team will send a list of possible projects to fund to the DNR commissioner, who will then make the ultimate decision about who gets what, while taking guidance from the Superfund law.
Both DNR and Honeywell agreed, by entering into the decree, that Honeywell admits no liability and doesn’t endorse any facts or conclusions that arise out of the complaint against the company. The consent decree is subject to public comment and will not become official until made so by the court.