The violations are alleged at the former Simmons property. The DNR may seek to have the city fined.
The following violations are alleged:
• Failure to wet asbestos-containing waste materials;
• Failure to seal asbestos-containing waste materials in containers;
• Operating a solid waste processing facility without a license; and
• Operating a solid waste disposal facility without a license.
City Attorney Earl Luaders explained that a lawsuit that will decide who is responsible for cleaning up the asbestos at the former Simmons property is currently pending. The lawsuit is between the City of New London, developer Eric Spirtas, and Superior Excavation of Hurley. It was filed in Outagamie County and has been pending for the last six months.
"The city met with the DNR about four or five months ago to talk about the pending lawsuit and explain to them where we were at with this issue," Luaders said. "We have always kept them informed on this issue, and it is unfortunate that they would do this."
Luaders said the city got an estimate for clean-up costs, which is said to be around $300,000. The city alleges that the contractor, Superior Excavation, did not do a proper job cleaning up the site. Luaders also stated that delaying the clean-up process will not cause the contamination to worsen.
"We feel that Superior Excavation is responsible for clean-up costs," Luaders said. "But we haven't received cooperation from them in taking responsibility for the clean-up.
"It is totally inappropriate for the DNR to seek to have fines imposed against the city," continued Luaders. "From our perspective, we've done everything we can to get this problem taken care of up to this point. For the DNR to seek fines against the city serves no purpose, because we're still working on this problem and the lawsuit to determine who is responsible has not yet been settled.
"We need to wait for the lawsuit to run its course, because that will determine who is responsible for clean-up," Luaders said. "The way that the DNR is choosing to proceed is the wrong way."
City Administrator Kent Hager said the situation may not be resolved for many months or years to come.
"We've been suffering through a long and difficult process, and it will probably continue for some time," Hager said. "We've got to be careful with how we handle it; it's very complex, and it could get even uglier."
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