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Wisconsin Public Service agrees to clean up contamination at former Marinette plant

Wisconsin Public Service Corp. has agreed to clean up contamination at a former manufactured gas plant site in northern Wisconsin.

On Friday, Judge William Griesbach of the Eastern District of Wisconsin approved a settlement requiring WPS to dredge and dispose of sediment contaminated with historic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) at the site in Marinette.

The State of Wisconsin and the federal government sued WPS in May because the approximately 15-acre site had released and threatened to release hazardous substances into the environment. The complaint said the contamination endangered public health.

The state and federal governments sought to recover unreimbursed costs for responding to the contamination, a declaratory judgment making WPS liable for any future costs to the state and federal government related to the site contamination, and injunctive relief requiring WPS to clean up the site.

The plaintiffs filed a proposed consent decree at the same time as the complaint, outlining the steps needed to remediate the site. After a period provided by statute to allow public comment, Griesbach approved the settlement.

The settlement requires WPS to conduct remedial activity at the site and long-term monitoring to assess the remediation success.

In addition, WPS has agreed to pay all future oversite costs incurred by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources during the required remediation and monitoring procedures. The company must obtain financial assurance in the amount of $7.6 million, which is the total estimated cost of the work to be performed.

Type of Action: Settlement

Date of resolution: Sept. 18, 2020

Case name: United States of America and The State of Wisconsin v. Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

Case type: 42:6901 Environmental Cleanup Expenses

Court: U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin

Presiding official: Judge William C Griesbach

Case number: 1:20-cv-00733-WCG (Eastern District of Wisconsin)

Plaintiff’s lawyers: Lorraine C. Stolzfus (State of Wisconsin), Bonnie Cosgrove (United States of America)

Defendant’s lawyers: Nathan J. Oesch and Nancy K. Peterson, Quarles & Brady


About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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