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Company Admits Responsibility In Westchester Mercury Contamination, Will Pay Clean-Up Costs

The former Port Refinery site that caused the mercury contamination was once located in a two-story garage on Hillandale Road in Rye Brook, a residential neighborhood.
The former Port Refinery site that caused the mercury contamination was once located in a two-story garage on Hillandale Road in Rye Brook, a residential neighborhood. Photo Credit: Google Maps street view

A company will be required to pay thousands of dollars in clean-up costs after admitting that it contributed to mercury contamination in Westchester. 

New York-based United Alloys and Steel Corporation has agreed to pay $260,000 in clean-up costs after admitting that it arranged for the disposal and treatment of mercury at a Rye Brook refinery site that led to the contaminant being released into the environment, the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York announced on Wednesday, March 8. 

According to federal officials, the corporation contributed to the mercury contamination by delivering 17,253 pounds of scrap mercury from the 1970s to the early 1990s for re-smelting purposes to Port Refinery, Inc., a mercury refining business in Rye Brook once located at 55 Hillandale Road until 1991. 

Port Refinery, which operated out of a two-story garage, would then handle the scrap mercury without taking any environmental precautions, which led to the contamination of homes in the area as well as two separate clean-up actions by the US Environmental Protection Agency. 

This contamination led the US Attorney's Office to file a civil lawsuit against United Alloys and Steel Corporation, which accepted responsibility in a consent decree that settled the lawsuit on March 8. 

In the complaint filed by federal officials, officials said that the second clean-up of the Rye Brook Port Refinery site conducted by the EPA included the removal of more than 9,300 tons of mercury-contaminated soil from the area, which consisted of around 0.7 acres of land and was bordered by residential neighborhoods and even a high school a quarter mile away. 

In the consent decree, United Alloys and Steel Corporation admitted to delivering the scrap mercury to Port Refinery during the 20-year period and that the refinery site took no environmental precautions or safety measures during its mercury refinement process. 

The corporation also admitted that this led to a significant amount of mercury being released into the environment. 

It was decided that the corporation would pay $260,000 for clean-up costs because of its documented inability to pay for the full share of incurred costs, federal officials said. 

The civil lawsuit was the US's eighth lawsuit against parties responsible for the mercury contamination. So far, the US has collected more than $3.079 million from those responsible. 

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