Following a two week trial in April and May of this year, Judge Barbara Crabb of the federal court for the Western District of Wisconsin has ruled that the City of Ashland does not have to contribute to the cost of remediating the contamination at the Superfund site in Ashland. As a result of the decision, Northern States Power Company (NSP) will be solely responsible for the remediation, which may cost in excess of $100 million.
The EPA designated the area a Superfund site in 2002 based on contamination by coal tar, a byproduct of manufacturing gas from coal for light and heating from 1885 to 1947. The site includes the former manufactured gas plant, public lands, and a portion of Lake Superior’s Chequamegon Bay.
In a suit that threatened the City of Ashland with insolvency, NSP claimed that the City should have to pay a major share of the clean-up cost because of its actions on the site. Judge Crabb found no factual basis for many of the claims and determined that it would not be equitable to require the City to contribute to the cost.
Ashland Mayor Debra Lewis called the result a “huge” win for the City, saying, “This is one where the stakes were incredibly high, and we are obviously very happy that it turned out the way it did.” The City was represented by Richard Yde, Ted Waskowski, Barbara Neider, Erika Bierma, Kyle Engelke, Meg Vergeront, and Laura Callan of the Stafford Rosenbaum law firm.
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