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DOJ Sues Paper Companies for $950 Million to Pay for Wisconsin Cleanup

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The U.S. Department of Justice is suing 10 companies and two municipalities for about $950 million to pay for environmental cleanup work at Lower Fox River and Green Bay in Wisconsin. Included in the defendants are paper companies that allegedly contaminated sediment in the Fox River and Green Bay by making and recycling a specific type of "carbonless" copy paper.

A significant amount of cleanup and natural restoration work—at a cost of $300 million—has already been done in the area through partial settlements and an administrative order from the Environmental Protection Agency.Those who are performing the cleanup have not agreed to complete the cleanup or pay all damages, but the lawsuit could result in a court order that will require them to continue funding and performing the cleanup. Completing the cleanup could cost an additional $550 million.

The U.S. and Wisconsin filed a proposed settlement with one of the newer defendants--Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP, which agreed to pay $7 million to cover some of the government's costs.

The lawsuit is proceeding against 11 other defendants, including: NCR Corp., Appleton Papers Inc., CBC Coating Inc., the city of Appleton, Kimberly- Clark Corp., Menasha Corp., the Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission, NewPage Wisconsin Systems Inc., P.H. Glatfelter Co., U.S. Paper Mills Corp., and WTM I Co.