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EPA seeks public input on Benton Harbor site settlement

Benton Harbor City Hall pictured in the summer of 2011.
Lindsey Smith
Michigan Radio
Benton Harbor City Hall pictured in the summer of 2011.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a more than half a million dollar settlement for cleanup of a site in Benton Harbor. The EPA finished the cleanup of the Alreco Metals site in 2015. The site had hazardous waste from the demolition of buildings and equipment.

The EPA says the Alreco Metals site in Benton Harbor was in operation for 43 years before the owner filed for bankruptcy in 2008. The EPA negotiated a settlement with Service Aluminum Corp., Toyota Motor Engineering and Louis Padnos Iron and Metal (PADNOS). Now the agency is asking for public input.

Josh Zaharoff is an attorney with the EPA. He says the EPA spent more than two million dollars on the clean-up. The settlement requires the companies to pay $585,570.40 for cleaning up the old aluminum smelting site in southwestern Michigan.

"We tried to negotiate a settlement quickly here to recover a good chunk of our money so we can keep doing this work," Zaharoff says.

Money from the settlement will go to the Hazardous Substances Superfund, which cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

Zaharoff says, "The money goes back into the Hazardous Substances Superfund, which we can then use to fund future clean-ups of other toxic sites."

In a statement PADNOS says:

"We voluntarily entered into a clean-up agreement with the EPA, even though this was not an operation under our control. It was the operation of a customer, who has since filed for bankruptcy. As a company, we are always looking to do the right thing for the environment – that’s why we recycle and why we help individuals and businesses recycle. And that’s why we are participating in this clean-up, even though it was necessitated by the actions of a customer, not our company."

Service Aluminum Corp. had no comment and Toyota Motor Engineering did not respond in time for comment.

The EPA is accepting public comment until September 26th.

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