Fox River PCB Clean-up Still Long Way From Being Funded

APPLETON, Wis., March 18 /PRNewswire/ — The top environmental lawyer for Appleton Papers, said today that Monday’s jury decision in Brown County to have insurance companies cover Appleton’s share of the cost of the cleanup of PCB contamination in the Lower Fox River was a positive step for the company and community. But the dollars to pay for remediation may still be years away.


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“The jury’s verdict answers the question whether the company had insurance coverage to cover the cleanup of the river, and that answer is ‘yes’,” said Pamela Barker, executive director of environmental health and product safety and assistant general counsel for Appleton. “Unfortunately, we expect the decision to be appealed and there is still the question of how to allocate those costs among the insurance companies.”


Barker added the case and the issue of allocation could proceed for several years more, adding that given the size of the cleanup costs, the insurance companies might appeal the case all the way to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


“We believe it is best to get on with the cleanup of the river than to spend years in the courtroom arguing over which insurance carrier pays how much,” said Barker.


Barker said she is confident in Appleton’s case before the higher courts since the Wisconsin Supreme Court has already ruled that environmental contamination is an item covered by general liability insurance policies. In 2003, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in a case involving Johnson Controls, Inc. that general liability insurance polices must cover environmental cleanups.


The issue of allocation, however, has not been tested before the court and could take years to decide, although the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has referred the issue to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. In the interim, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and United States Environmental Protection Agency have ordered Appleton and seven other paper companies to begin the cleanup in 2009.


“Appleton is committed to working with the government to achieve a timely and successful cleanup of the river,” said Barker. “We are hopeful that our insurance carriers can now assist us in making the cleanup a reality.”


About Appleton


Appleton creates product solutions through its development and use of coating formulations and applications, encapsulation technology and secure and specialized print services. The Company produces carbonless, thermal, security and performance packaging products. Appleton, headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin, has manufacturing operations in Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and the United Kingdom, employs approximately 3,000 people and is 100 percent employee owned. For more information visit http://www.appletonideas.com/.


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Source: Appleton