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Bankruptcy Settlement Provides $3.8 Million to Clean Up Former Trent Tube Site in East Troy


MADISON -- The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have secured $3.8 million for the cleanup of the former Trent Tube site in East Troy.


The funds come from the Delaware Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Crucible Materials Corporation, the parent company that previously operated the Trent Tube facility.


According to the bankruptcy court order authorizing the settlement between Crucible and DNR, the funds for environmental cleanup of the facility must be placed in an environmental response trust, and must be used to clean up soil and groundwater contamination at the 32-acre facility. The ruling also divided the settlement to the state into $1.8 million cash, a promissory note and land from Crucible Materials.


“The settlement of the state's claim for environmental remediation, through a bankruptcy court approved creation of an environmental response trust, is a just result on behalf of the environment and citizens of Wisconsin,” said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.


Trent Tube operated as a steel tubing manufacturing plant from 1941 until the mid-1990s, when operations were moved to other facilities. The buildings were razed in 1998. While clean-up activities occurred at the site for several years, Crucible filed for bankruptcy in 2009 before the remediation was completed.


After Crucible filed its bankruptcy petition, DOJ filed a claim on behalf of the DNR in the Crucible bankruptcy for $4.7 million. The claim was for environmental remediation and related cleanup, treatment and monitoring activities pursuant to both Wisconsin and federal law, and pursuant to a stipulated judgment previously obtained by DOJ on behalf of the DNR. Justice Department Assistant Attorneys General Anne Murphy and Richard Braun represented DNR in the bankruptcy proceeding.


“Brownfield cleanups like Trent Tube are often millions of dollars,” said DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp. “These funds will go a long way toward turning this brownfield property into an economic asset and potential site for a business startup and local jobs,” said Stepp.


Stepp noted that the extent of Trent Tube's contamination is well established, with soil and groundwater at the property contaminated with chlorinated solvents, metals and petroleum compounds. She said the funds would be used to complete soil remediation and groundwater treatment.


“A bankruptcy is an unfortunate occurrence, but when it happens at a site that is contaminated and needs to be cleaned up to protect the people who live nearby, we must secure whatever funds we can from the people responsible – or the taxpayers have to foot the bill,” said Stepp.


To help manage the funds and oversee cleanup work, Crucible selected Bruce Keyes, a Milwaukee environmental attorney with Foley & Lardner, LLP. The DOJ and DNR assisted with the trustee selection through the solicitation of proposals from several local firms with experience in environmental cleanup issues and management of trusts and other financial entities.


“We looked at a number of attorneys, and we felt choosing a local attorney with experience and an excellent track record to help manage the use of these cleanup funds was the right choice, versus using an out-of-state firm with limited knowledge of Wisconsin cleanup issues,” said Stepp.


Stepp added that it could take more than 10 years for cleanup and monitoring work to be completed at the property.


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