WASHINGTON—Fifty-four companies, including Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. and several suppliers to the rubber industry, have agreed to pay $32.1 million to the federal government to clean up the hazardous waste at a massive Superfund site in Smithfield, R.I., that also contains millions of scrap tires. The settling companies will pay $18.6 million to detoxify the Davis Liquid Waste Superfund site, and another $13.5 million to reimburse the government for money it already spent there, according to the agreement reached Nov. 27 between the companies, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department.
But the millions of tires at the site are complicating cleanup of hazardous liquid wastes there, according to the EPA. The scrap tires are not considered hazardous wastes themselves, an agency spokeswoman said.
Payments by each company will not be equal, but according to individual liability as determined by the government, a Justice Department spokesman said.
Bridgestone/Firestone has one of the smaller shares of payment, according to an environmental staff person for the company.
Under the cleanup plan, the companies will remove the tires from contaminated areas, excavate raw waste and contaminated soil, and use a process called low-temperature thermal desorption to treat the soil on-site.
Twenty acres of the site are covered with tires, and five of those acres are contaminated with liquid waste, the EPA spokeswoman said. But the agency has never defined scrap tires as hazardous waste, and is not doing so at Smithfield, she added.
``Our real concern is that the tires may be blocking cleanup of the liquid waste,'' she said. ``It would be nice if those tires were removed.''
William Davis, owner of the Smithfield site, already is under orders by Rhode Island officials to remove all the tires. He has made some progress in doing so, the spokeswoman said.