Bowitch Represents Livingston County in $20 Million Settlement of Salt Mine Collapse Case

Article published in New York Law Journal on December 30, 2014 (website link or PDF)

A settlement will end a long-standing legal dispute over the potential contamination caused by a collapse of North America's largest salt mine in 1994, parties to the agreement said. New York state and upstate Livingston County will use the $20 million from the settlement with AkzoNobel Salt Inc. to protect groundwater supplies and monitor wells, according to state and county officials.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens called the agreement "significant and unique" and "one of the largest of its kind for impacts to groundwater in New York state history."

Martens said the settlement was reached after years of negotiations between the state, county and the company.... Assistant Attorney General Timoth Hoffman signed the consent decree on behalf of the state. Gary Bowitch, member of Bowitch & Coffey in Albany, represented the county....... Read Full PDF Article).

Article published in The Livingston County News on December 17, 2014 (website link or PDF)

AkzoNobel Inc. has proposed a $20 million settlement to Livingston County and New York State, that includes the dismantling of the company’s desalination plant in Cuylerville and would allow the company to end its obligations related to a mine collapse that occurred more than 20 years ago.

The settlement money would be divided into four escrow accounts, with Livingston County controlling three of the funds and $17 million. The money would be available for use in the area affected by the the 1994 collapse of AkzoNobel’s former Retsof salt mine, which included the towns of Leicester, York, Geneseo, Groveland, Mount Morris and Avon.

The remaining $3 million would be in a fund to be used by the State to continue subsidence testing and groundwater/well monitoring of the area affected by the mine collapse.

The desalination plant, which began pumping and treating highly saturated salt water from the flooded mine in 2006 to prevent it from entering a lower aquifer, would be dismantled and removed within six months.

The keys to the settlement, said Gary S. Bowitch, the environmental attorney retained by the County, are that it “calls for payment of money. It also requires that within six months’ time the plant be completely dismantled and equipment moved off and the site be restored to its previous condition.”

Some drainage and other pipes could remain in place, though that would be at the discretion of the town of Leicester, Bowitch said.... Read Full PDF Article).

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