EPA, UP Settle Dispute for $25 Million

EPA, UP Settle Dispute for $25 Million

Union Pacific Railroad will pay $25 million to settle a longstanding dispute with the Environmental Protection Agency over lead cleanup costs for a Superfund site in Omaha, Neb.

Lead smelter operations, which began in the late 1800s and operated for many years on land owned by UP and another company, had contaminated thousands of residential yards in the area, the EPA said.

The agency also said the federal government had incurred more than $175 million in investigation and remediation costs since the Omaha City Council asked for its help in 1998.

Consent decrees negotiated with UP and the other defendant, Gould Electronics, totaled $26.15 million. They were lodged in federal court in Omaha on June 1, and are subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.

While UP in its settlement agreement does not admit to any liability, the company would pay the EPA $9.5 million for past response costs, another $11.85 million for future costs, plus $400,000 to Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality and $100,000 to the federal Interior Department. It would also contribute $3.15 million for community health education and involvement programs about the health risks of lead exposure.

Gould, in its consent document, “expressly denies” any liability. Its $1.15 million in payments include more than $1.1 million to the EPA and the rest to the state agency.

-- Contact John D. Boyd at jboyd@joc.com. Follow him on Twitter @jboydjoc.