Monday, August 29, 2016

Akzo Nobel Salt to pay Livingston County $20 million in settlement

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), State Attorney General's Office (OAG) and Livingston County have finalized a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to determine how funds from a settlement reached with the former owner of a collapsed salt mine in Livingston County will be used, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced today.
On December 23, 2014, DEC entered into a $20 million Natural Resource Damages (NRD) settlement agreement with Livingston County, the AG, and Akzo Nobel Salt, Inc. to address the environmental problems stemming from the 1994 collapse of the Retsof Salt Mine, which was the second-largest salt mine in the world. Among other things, the MOU provides that the settlement funds will be divided into four separate accounts: water supply infrastructure improvements, surface water and water supply improvements, monitoring of groundwater and subsidence within the area affected by the collapse and the development of a contingency fund.
"The funds acquired through this settlement with Akzo Nobel will play a significant role in safeguarding drinking water supplies in this area," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "The collapse and complete flooding of the Retsof Salt Mine in 1994 reduced available potable groundwater supplies, impacted local residential water wells, and resulted in land subsidence. By finalizing the MOU today, we are helping Livingston County communities continue to protect and enhance their drinking water supplies."
"The collapse of the Retsof mine has caused concerns in the impacted communities over long-term water supplies," Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said. "We are pleased to join in forging a resolution to these longstanding concerns by securing $20 million to improve and protect the communities' water supplies for years to come."
Senator Patrick Gallivan, (R, C, IP) 59th Senate District said, "There is perhaps nothing more important than safe water in our communities. These funds will help ensure those impacted by the collapse of the Akzo mine will have access to reliable and safe drinking water now and in the future."
Livingston County Administrator Ian Coyle said, "The release of the settlement funds to Livingston County represents an end to a chapter of the County's history that no one wants to relive - the collapsing of a mine and the resulting, and profound, impact on the community. While dollars will never replace nor reverse the environmental problems caused by the collapse, it is important for County residents to know that the Board of Supervisors fought for every nickel that came back to Livingston County and a full $17 million dollars in settlement proceeds will be managed and maintained by the County for future water supply and infrastructure projects in the impacted areas."
Under the MOU, the $20 million paid by Akzo Nobel Inc. is deposited into different accounts:
  • $11,000,000 dedicated to surface water and water supply infrastructure, repair and maintenance.
  • $5,000,000 dedicated to surface water and water supply improvement projects to protect the drinking water sources for the communities impacted by the mine collapse.
  • $3,000,000 dedicated to monitoring groundwater and subsidence within the affected area, with $24,925.01 used to reimburse prior expert consultant costs.
  • $1,000,000 will provide a contingency fund to address potential future harm related to the collapse.
DEC accepted comments on the MOU during a 45-day public comment period, which concluded on July 5, 2016.