WXXI AM News

$50 Million Could Come From State as Backup for Kodak Environmental Fund

Aug 7, 2013

Kodak has submitted a revised proposal of their plan to deal with legacy environmental issues at Eastman Business Park. The new plan would see New York state and its taxpayers contribute at least an extra $50 million in backup funding.

The original plan saw Kodak providing a $49 million fund for future costs stemming from environmental contamination in the Business Park and parts of the Genesee River.

Beyond that, the company could not be held liable for future environmental problems according to the settlement plan.

But, in mid-July, federal officials objected to the proposal saying they weren’t convinced the $49 million would be sufficient.

U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials also said they would not waive their right to sue Kodak in the future over environmental damage caused at the site.

The revised plan, designed to address these concerns, was submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Tuesday night and has the state providing an extra $50 million in funding in case Kodak’s fund dries up.

If the aggregate $99 million proves to be too little, the plan proposes that extra costs would be split between the company and the state.

In a statement the EPA says they’re still in discussions with Kodak over the plan.

The agreement continues to contain a provision stating that a condition to the implementation of the settlement (unless this condition is waived by Kodak) is that the U.S. shall have delivered a covenant not to sue to Kodak, but the amended agreement extends the deadline for the provision of such a covenant to December 31, 2013. The EPA is considering whether to give this covenant.

Because the EPA’s rights with regards to environmental issues affecting Eastman Business Park have not been waived in the agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has informed Kodak that the U.S. government will not be objecting to the agreement. EPA continues to work toward a resolution of the remaining issues surrounding Eastman Business Park and is actively engaged in discussions.

Kodak spokesman Chris Veronda says any state funding would come from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

But, he says the company remains confident that the original funding figure will be sufficient to cover future spending.

Kodak and  the State, based on extensive characterization of the site and the degree to which remediation projects have been  in put place, believe that the $49 million will be fully sufficient to fund the trust.