Insurers Could Pay Up to $730 Million to Cover Costs of PCB Cleanup in Wis.

March 19, 2008

Nine insurance companies should cover the costs assessed to the former Appleton Papers Inc. for cleanup of the industrial chemical PCBs in the Lower Fox River, a jury decided Monday.

After a five-week trial, the jury took just four hours to determine that the insurance polices in effect from 1979-85 covered property damage caused by the discharge of the industrial chemical pollutant PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls.

Columbia Casualty Co. of Chicago sued in 2005, claiming its policy did not cover PCB damage and that the paper company didn’t give the insurance company timely notice it was responsible for cleanup costs.

Eight other insurance companies joined the lawsuit.

The decision is expected to be appealed.

The insurance companies could be required to pay from $550 million to $730 million if the jury’s decision stands and if it is determined that Appleton Papers’ responsibility is that much.

Six other paper mills have been ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Natural Resources to present a design plan for dredging and capping PCB-contaminated sediment from the river.

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