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Thursday, July 17, 2003

Report: Westport to Pay at Least $2.7 Million in Superfund Case

Westport and six other Connecticut communities have reached the end of the line in court appeals and must pay cleanup costs at two contaminated landfills, the New Haven Register reported today. Westports share is at least $2.7 million.

The almost 20-year-old case centers on two so-called Superfund sites in ConnecticutҒs Naugatuck Valley. Westport and the other communities hauled their solid waste to the sites until the 1980s, only to find later that the sites had become contaminated.

After years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a final appeal last month, the newspaper said, quoting a Hartford attorney, Ann Catino, who represented six of the seven communities in the suit. It said the court gave no reason.

A spokeswoman in First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrells office today confirmed the town had been informed of the ruling. Farrell was unavailable for comment.

The Register quoted Farrell as saying: ғ“Its unfair to municipalities that didnҒt do anything wrong. The price is very troubling but the principle behind it is more troubling.”

More than a decade ago, several private companies were forced to clean and cap the landfills and later sued more than 400 parties for contributions to the $80 million cleanup costs.

Defendants, except for Westport and the six other municipalities, had reached out-of-court settlements. Six of the seven communities decided to pursue their appeals. Naugatuck did not.

Westport officials had tried to get the courts to stop the clockӔ on interest building up on the judgments against the communities, but had failed.

The other communities besides Westport and Naugatuck which will now have to pay include Seymour, Middlebury, New Haven, Orange, and Plymouth.

Trying to determine who pays for cleanup costs for Superfund sites has kept courts and lawyers busy for years. Legal scholars have made the complex litigation the subject of numerous law review articles and books.


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