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polluted aquifer

DPNR revises Red Mud suit

By DANIEL SHEA (Daily News Staff)
Published: December 17, 2010
ST. CROIX – The V.I. Waste Management Authority recently was released from the Red Mud lawsuit filed in 2005 by the V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources.

The lawsuit originally was directed at eight companies involved in the aluminum manufacturing and petroleum industries since the 1960s, claiming they had polluted the island’s largest and most productive aquifer.

The companies used chemicals that turned swaths of mud red, giving the lawsuit its name.

“There’s allegations that it’s toxic,” said Waste Management legal counsel, Iver Stridiron.

But some of those companies filed a suit alleging that Waste Management had caused the spread of the pollution to be much greater because the authority had a sewer line that ran underneath that area and spread the pollutants, Stridiron said. Waste Management became a third-party defendant.

Stridiron traveled across the United States and took 40 depositions in an effort to remove Waste Management from the suit. “In the end, the parties agreed that Waste Management had nothing to do with the lawsuit,” Stridiron said. “We are the only ones that have been released from that lawsuit.

The cleanup is estimated to cost $60 million to $100 million, he said.

Other companies listed in the suit are: HOVENSA, Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp., St. Croix Renaissance Group, Pittsburgh-based St. Croix Alumina, Pittsburgh-based Alcoa World Alumina, V.I. Alumina Co., California-based Century Alumina Co. and Lockheed Martin.

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