|Port of Houston
settles contamination suit for $100 million|
HOUSTON - The Port of Houston said Wednesday it has reached a $100
million settlement in a lawsuit over massive contamination from a
nearby pesticide manufacturing plant.
The settlement of the lawsuit
was between the port and GB Biosciences, its parent company and 11
other firms associated with the east Houston plant, where the
pesticides DDT and lindane were formerly manufactured. The lawsuit was
filed in February 2001.
"The port authority has been
committed to resolving this matter because we genuinely felt that it
was the right thing to do for the protection and preservation of the
environment and the quality of life," said Tom Kornegay, the Port of
Houston Authority's executive director.
A Harris County flood control
ditch and a section of Greens Bayou that runs near the plant were
among contaminated areas. The defendants, as part of the settlement,
will purchase more than 100 acres of the affected property from the
About 500,000 cubic yards of
sediment from Greens Bayou will have to be removed as part of the
remediation. Sediment also will be removed from the county ditch.
The GB Biosciences facility and
its disposal areas are adjacent to the port authority's land, south of
Interstate 10. Port officials learned of the threat in 1998 and began
an investigation, determining the contamination was much more
extensive than initially believed.
Signed on Dec. 19, the
settlement calls for extensive remediation that alone will cost a
projected $45 million. The cleanup is expected to begin this year and
take five to seven years to complete.
The port authority also
received $35 million in cash for attorneys fees, cost of property
sold, oversight of the remediation process for the next 30 years and
future protection for environmental issues as well as $20 million for
protection against future claims or expenses.
Use of DDT was banned in 1970
by the federal government and production of the chemical ceased.
Lindane production was halted in 1966.
Officials of Syngenta, which
bought GB Biosciences in 1998, did not immediately return a telephone
call seeking comment Wednesday from The Associated Press.