The US tire manufacturer, Titan Tire International Inc., recently agreed to pay over $11.5 million to the federal government to resolve a long-running environmental case in Des Moines, Iowa. The company has entered into a proposed consent decree in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa that calls for the payment to satisfy past judgments of $1.62 million in civil penalties, $5.45 million in punitive damages and another $5.45 million in past costs incurred by the government.
The city of Des Moines announced it will take ownership of a toxic site, which has been vacant for 25 years, while the owners have been tied up in legal battles, protesting against millions of dollars in fines levied against them by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for not complying with pollution cleanup orders.
The property is the site of the former Dico Inc. manufacturing plant, and of Titan Tire Corp., which also used the site; and both companies' parent, Titan International Inc.
It is alleged that the soil on the property has been contaminated with various chemicals, and the buildings contain carcinogenic materials.
Dico and Titan would have to pay $11.5 million in fines to the EPA and would donate the property to Des Moines. The EPA would then demolish and dispose of three contaminated buildings, as well as build a new groundwater treatment system to treat the chemicals in the soil.
At its manufacturing plant, Dico made freezers, ice cream machines and other dairy industry equipment, later producing wheels for trailers and wheelbarrows. A chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE) which was used in industrial degreasers and has been linked to cancer, was found in the city’s water supply in 1976 and the Dico plant was named as a potential source by the EPA. TCE was discovered in Dico's groundwater, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were found in its buildings.
In 1983, the EPA designated the plant as a Superfund site — a designation reserved for the most toxic waste sites in the US- and it was subsequently placed on a list of 21 Superfund sites targeted for immediate clean-up.
Titan International acquired Dico and the plant in 1993, only to close it in 1995. The tiremaker also has a large tire manufacturing facility in Des Moines.
Mr.Paul Reitz, president and CEO of Titan International Inc., said in a statement that he would like to see the Dico site returned to productive use, while also resolving once and for all more than two decades of litigation relating to the property.