Media Center

DOJ Announces Settlement With City of Green Bay and Brown County in Fox River Case


GREEN BAY – Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announces that his office on behalf of the State of Wisconsin along with the United States Department of Justice, has filed a Second Proposed Consent Decree along with an Amended Complaint representing a settlement with Brown County and the City of Green Bay concerning polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contamination in the Lower Fox River and Green Bay. The consent decree also resolves the United States government's alleged liability for contamination at Green Bay under the federal Superfund Law.


Under the proposed consent decree that was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on December 1, 2010, Brown County, Green Bay, and the UnitedStates would pay a total of $5,200,000 ($350,000 each from Brown County and GreenBay, and $4,500,000 from the United States). Of that $5,200,000 most would go to natural resource damages ($4,350,000) and the remainder would go towards past and future response costs ($850,000). Most of the payment toward past and future response costs will go to a special account managed by the State of Wisconsin for use in paying future government costs of overseeing cleanup work that is being performed by some of the defendants liable for the contamination. The City of Green Bay's and Brown County's potential liability for natural resource damages results from releases associated with historic placement of dredged material in Green Bay and releases to the bay from two confined disposal facilities (CDFs) in the area that had been used to contain PCB-contaminated sediment from navigational dredging activity at Green Bay. The Bayport CDF is a land-based facility adjacent to the bay and the RenardIsland CDF is an in-water facility in the southern part of the bay.


On October 13, 2010, the United States and the State of Wisconsin filed a civil lawsuit concerning PCB contamination of the lower Fox River and Green Bay Superfund site. The complaint asserted claims under the federal Superfund Law against twelve defendants to require completion of ongoing cleanup work at this site, reimbursement of past and future response costs incurred by the governments, and payment of natural resource damages for PCB-related injuries to natural resources on the river and in Green Bay. The total cleanup costs and damages are expected to exceed $1,000,000,000.

The twelve original defendants included ten paper companies that produced or recycled a particular type of PCB containing carbonless copy paper and two municipalities that discharged PCBs to the Fox River, namely: NCR Corporation, Appleton Papers, Inc., CBCCoating, Inc., Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP, Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Menasha Corporation, NewPage Wisconsin Systems, Inc., P.H. Glatfelter Company, U.S. Paper Mills Corp., WTM 1 Company, City of Appleton, and Neenah-Menasha Sewerage Commission.


Last month the United States and State of Wisconsin announced a proposed settlement in the form of a consent decree with one defendant, Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products LP. Both that proposed consent decree and this proposed consent decree with Brown County and the City of Green Bay are subject to court approval. The lawsuit will continue against the remaining defendants.