By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, Friday, July 14, 2006
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- A new creditor has come forward trying tq collect money owed to them from the bankrupt Foss Manufacturing Co.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency filed a claim against the company in federal bankruptcy court on June 27, stating Foss Manufacturing owes it $67,234 in cleanup costs for disposing 10,000 gallons of hazardous substances in what is now referred to as the Beede Waste Oil Superfund Site in Plaistow.
The EPA is asking a bankruptcy judge to allow it to collect even though the deadline for creditors to file claims against the company has expired. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 27.
United States Attorney Thomas P. Colantunono argued on behalf of the EPA in court filings that the federal agency was unaware Foss filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2005, and the EPA only became aware of the fact after it received a notice the company was sold and renamed Felt Manufacturing this past April.
Trustee Patrick O'Malley, who oversaw the company during bankruptcy proceedings prior to it being sold, did not object to the motion filed by the EPA.
According to court documents, Foss Manufacturing used the Beede Waste Oil Company to dispose of hazardous materials it generated from a facility it operated out of Haverhill, Mass., from 1983 to 1991.
The Beede Waste Oil Company site was used legally from the 1920s to 1995 as a place to dispose of waste oil, toxins, antifreeze and solvents. The operation was shut down in 1994 and was declared a Superfund site in 1996, after federal environmental officials found the waste had contaminated nearby soil and the drinking water.
Although Foss Manufacturing had been disposing of the toxic chemicals legally, the company has to share the burden of cleanup costs with others who used the site under the federal Superfund law.
The Superfund law was enacted because owners of Superfund sites often disappear or go bankrupt, and the restoration of the properties can be too expensive for the government to pay alone. Under the law, the cost is passed on to those who generated the waste.
Colantunono stated that while the EPA has reached settlements with 1,199 other parties that used the site, it has not reached such an agreement with Foss Manufacturing.
So far, the government has spent $22 million cleaning the site, but it is estimated that it will cost $70 million before it is completely cleaned. The EPA came up with the figure of $67,234.50 based upon the volume of waste Foss sent to the site.