The Environmental Protection Agency is holding the city partially responsible for cleaning up a landfill in the state of Washington that is listed among the agency's Superfund sites.
Provo's share of cleaning up PCBs that leaked from electric transformers the city had hauled to the landfill 10 years ago could run as high as $45,000. PCBs are a poisonous industrial chemical suspected of causing cancer.Provo's share of cleanup money would come out of the Energy Department budget, city attorney Gary Gregerson said. However, city officials say they'll seek redress from the Washington company it hired to dispose of the transformers.
The city hired Ross Electric to hauled the transformers to the eight-acre landfill just outside Chehalis, Wash. As part of its agreement with Provo, Ross Electric agreed to pay any fines or penalties that might result from disposing of the transformers, Gregerson said.
So far, Ross Electric and its insurer, Travelers Insurance, have ignored claims filed by Provo.
Provo was contacted by the Coal Creek Remedial Steering Committee, a group organizing cleanup efforts, about three years ago regarding its potential responsibility in aiding cleanup of the landfill. The landfill was used from 1949 to 1983 for manufacturing, repairing, recycling and scrapping of transformers and other electrical equipment.
"Under EPA law, no matter who hauled it, you're responsible," Gregerson said.
About 85 entities are involved in the cleanup, which will cost approximately $12 million.
Last summer, the city sent two checks totaling about $2,500 as its portion of payment for a study on the best method of cleaning up the site. However, Gregerson said, the EPA never cashed one of the checks.
Several months ago, the EPA asked Provo to waive its indemnity contract with Ross Electric and join with a group of entities participating in the cleanup or to indicate its plan for participating as an individual entity.
Gregerson said Provo is willing to pay its share of the cleanup but will not waive its indemnity contract with Ross Electric.