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County to receive $25 million from Superfund site settelement

Associated Press - BRUNSWICK, Ga

Glynn County will receive $25 million from the settlement of a lawsuit against the owners of the former LCP Chemicals-Georgia Superfund site.

The county had sued Allied Signal Inc., Honeywell International and Allied Chemical Corp. for damage to county-owned property caused by pollution from the closed chemical plant.

The owners agreed in the settlement to neutralize a pool of caustic brine that leaked from the plant and is endangering the groundwater where LCP's production facilities once were, said Glynn County Commission Chairman Don Hogan.

The county will net about $18 million from the lawsuit after the legal fees and expenses are paid, he said.

But the agreement to clean up the pollution is more important than the money, said County Attorney Gary Moore.

"Otherwise, they could get in there and argue and fuss" with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and further delay the cleanup, Moore said.

Both the owners of the plant and the EPA are working on a way to clean up the caustic plume, which may be contaminated with mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs. The defendants agreed to neutralize the alkalinity of the plume so it won't dissolve the sandstone, he said.

Once an important part of the local economy, the plant site originally was used as a refinery around World War I and later as a plant where Allied Chemical Co. imported salt, turned it to brine and broke it down into chlorine and caustic soda.

Mercury was part of the process and when rules on discharges tightened because of the federal Clean Water Act, the company sold it to the Hanlin Group, Inc.

After the plant declared bankruptcy in the mid-1990s, Allied Signal and former owners Arco and Georgia Power paid $60 million to cleanup the site under EPA guidance. More than 215,000 tons of highly contaminated waste was removed in 1997 and 13 acres of marsh and two canals were excavated to remove mercury and PCBs from the sensitive environment.

The former owners and managers of the plant were tried and convicted in 1999 in federal court of conspiracy, discharging pollutants into the water, endangering the lives and health of employees and storing hazardous chemicals without a permit.

Owner and former CEO Christian A. Hansen Jr. was sentenced to nine years in federal prison and fined $20,000; former plant manager Alfred R. Taylor was sentenced to six years in prison and Hansen's son, Robert W. Hansen - also a top executive in the Hanlin Group - was sentenced to nearly four years in prison and fined $20,000.

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