R.I. Lead Cleanup Plan to be Known in Sept.

May 17, 2007

Three former lead paint manufacturers who lost a landmark lawsuit last year could learn by mid-September what the state wants them to do to clean up contaminated properties in Rhode Island — a process that is estimated to cost billions.

In court papers filed this week, lawyers for the state said they would file a detailed cleanup plan by Sept. 15. There’s been no decision yet on how much the companies must pay, and the case is being appealed.

But lawyers for the state have estimated it would cost billions to clean up the toxic substance in Rhode Island homes. The plan is expected to detail what the companies will be forced to do and how extensive the cleanup will be.

A jury in February 2006 found three manufacturers — Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries, Inc. and Millennium Holdings LLC — liable for creating a public nuisance by manufacturing and selling a toxic product.

Both sides have given Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein names of experts who could serve as a “special master” to help him review the state’s cleanup plan.

Lawyers for the state, in new documents this week, said the special master should be responsible for reporting to Silverstein on how much each element of the cleanup proposal would cost and how the plan would be monitored and implemented.

The state also says the special master should have the authority to conduct hearings and issue subpoenas.

Lead paint was banned in the United States for residential use in 1978, but lawyers for the state say roughly 250,000 homes in Rhode Island contain the toxic substance.

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