Carpenter Technology: Litigation Forever, Cleanup Never

This article was bizarrely stashed in the business section of the Philadelphia Inquirer, rather than reported as Science news, or even just as general news.

Going back to 1969, a chemist with no soul named Manfred DeRewal bought a local farm and then used it as a chemical waste dumping ground, hiring himself out to local companies as their cheap waste solution. This went on for, oh, a really long time. Litigation is now ongoing in the federal courts over who is responsible for cleanup. Now this:

Yesterday, Carpenter Technology Corp., one of the companies whose waste ended up at the farm, said it would increase its $5 million fund for litigation to $21 million.

In announcing the increase, the Wyomissing, Pa., company said it intended to appeal a recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Legrome D. Davis holding the firm liable for 80 percent of the past and future cleanup costs at the site in Upper Black Eddy.

In his Aug. 18 decision, Davis found that Carpenter was liable for that much of the cleanup because it kept using DeRewal Chemical Corp. to dispose of its toxic waste even though it knew of DeRewal's "status as a notorious environmental polluter."

"This decision was economically motivated," Davis wrote, having presided over a trial on the matter in July in Philadelphia.

How much money is Carpenter saving by litigating? Well, so far, their share of the costs for the cleanup of the Superfund site is $10.9 million. That's approximately half of what they've allocated for litigation. So they're saving....nothing!

I think the comment left by "marty" on the article about sums up my feelings:

Judge Lewis and the government starting the lawsuit should be ashamed of themselves. It is the American Way to allow someone to do whatever they want on their own property, regardless of consequences. That is what George Bush has been fighting for all these years (that, and the right to use the Army against anyone we don't like). We need to keep these rights; vote for McCain to keep intact our God-given right to destroy things. Thank God Carpenter (net income over $200M this year) and DeRewal (vacationing out of the country at 81 years old) aren't being hurt by this frivolous lawsuit; it would be awful to think they were actually PUNISHED for simply trashing the infrastructure and the environment, even though that included such insignificant things as the Delaware River and the Philly water-treatment system.

If you feel so moved, this site has a link for you to email the corporate offices of Carpenter and tell them just what you think of their litigate forever, cleanup never strategy.

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Twenty years ago, when people were just learning that they ought to clean up after themselves, some people would rent storage space, fill it up with industrial waste, and abandon it. The owners of the storage space were stuck with disposal costs. I'm not sure what's stopping them now.