December 7, 2022

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Justice Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and State of Ohio Reach Natural Resource Damages Settlement with Dover Chemical Corporation

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<div>Dover Chemical Corporation has agreed to implement and fund natural resource restoration and protection projects to resolve alleged state and federal natural resource damages (NRD) associated with the Dover Chemical Corporation Superfund Site and the surrounding NRD assessment area in Dover, Ohio.</div>

Dover Chemical Corporation has agreed to implement and fund natural resource restoration and protection projects to resolve alleged state and federal natural resource damages (NRD) associated with the Dover Chemical Corporation Superfund Site and the surrounding NRD assessment area in Dover, Ohio. The proposed consent decree, lodged today by the Justice Department on behalf of the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, together with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the state of Ohio and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), is related to a 2017 complaint. That action resulted in a 2018 decree that implemented the final Superfund remedial work at the Site and expressly reserved the right of Ohio and the United States to pursue compensation for natural resource damages. 

The proposed decree addresses natural resource damages, with Dover Chemical Corporation agreeing to implement projects that will restore and protect 28.5 acres of wetlands in Stark County and protect 195 acres of riparian habitat in Tuscarawas, Jefferson, Columbiana, and/or Belmont counties. Dover Chemical Corporation will also pay $880,000 to the State of Ohio to fund projects near the Site to protect, restore, or enhance state ground water resources. Finally, Dover Chemical Corporation will pay for costs incurred by Ohio and the United States to assess injuries to natural resources associated with the Site, including approximately $648,000 for state assessment costs and $745,000 for federal assessment costs.

“Today’s consent decree is a milestone in our efforts to protect and restore our valuable natural resources in Dover, Ohio, and the surrounding area,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously pursue natural resource damage claims in cooperation with our state partners.”

“Ohio takes threats to our environment and natural resources seriously,” said Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost. “This consent decree is good for the environment and good for the people of Tuscarawas County.”

“We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked in coordination with the State of Ohio to reach this settlement that will help restore fish and wildlife resources affected by release of contaminants,” said Service Deputy Midwest Regional Director Charles Traxler. “We are pleased to be part of the effort to restore a part of Ohio’s natural heritage.”

“This consent decree is a positive step forward and the projects that Dover Chemical has committed to under the decree will result in improvements to stream habitats and waterways in the area,” said Ohio EPA Director Laurie A. Stevenson. 

Dover Chemical Corporation has operated a chemical plant in Dover, Ohio, from 1951 to the present, producing chemicals that include alkyl phenols, chlorinated paraffin, and organophosphites. The United States’ 2017 complaint in this matter alleged that operations at the plant have resulted in decades of releases of hazardous substances to the Site. Ohio EPA and the Fish and Wildlife Service are joint trustees for the biological and surface water resources impacted by contamination at the site, while Ohio EPA is the trustee for the ground water resource.

The trustees began an NRD assessment in 2009 that evaluated natural resource injuries to land surrounding the Dover Chemical Corporation plant and ground water impacted by an underground plume of contamination that extends to the south of the plant. The assessment identified injury to the surface water (including sediments), biological resources (including supporting habitats), and ground water resources in the assessment area caused by hazardous substances.

The proposed decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, resolves the United States’ and Ohio’s NRD allegations under Section 107 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.  The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  It will be available for viewing at www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.

The Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio EPA are seeking concurrent public comment on the Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment (Draft RP/EA). The Draft RP/EA informs the public about the proposed NRD restoration and protection projects included in the negotiated settlement. The trustees invite the public to view and comment on the Draft RP/EA from Oct. 3, 2022 to Nov. 2, 2022 at https://fws.gov/project/dover-chemical-corp-nrdar-sugar-creek-ohio.

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