Provo City officials have agreed to bear a tiny portion of the cost of cleaning up an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site in Washington state, where cancer-causing wastes have been dumped.
Provo is one of about 64 utilities involved in the cleanup of a site on the Coal Creek, near Chehalis, Wash., that has been contaminated with high levels of PCBs from electrical transformers dumped in a metal scrap yard.Provo's estimated liability is less than 1 percent of the cleanup costs, about $500 for preliminary EPA site studies, said City Attorney Gary Gregerson.
Under federal regulations, any entity that contributed to materials contaminating a Superfund site is liable for bearing a portion of financial liability equal to its percentage of contributing to the problem.
But Gregerson said the city should not be liable for any expenses because the transformers were dumped by Ross Electric, under a contract that indemnified Provo against damages.
"We can be sued by the EPA or we can meet the obligation and then turn around and sue Ross Electric," Gregerson said.
The contractor thus far has not assumed liability because it is contesting EPA's claims, Gregerson said.
A regional EPA spokesman said many of the dozens of utilities involved will incur costs in the thousands of dollars.
A site study determined PCBs had leaked into a drainage ditch which feeds into Coal Creek.