Companies agree to clean up Centredale Manor Superfund site

PROVIDENCE – Emhart Industries Inc. and Black & Decker Inc., two subsidiaries of Stanley Black & Decker Inc., have agreed to clean up dioxin-contaminated sediment and soil at the Centredale Manor restoration project Superfund site in North Providence and Johnston, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management announced jointly Monday.

The settlement, which ends close to eight years of litigation, requires the performance of the cleanup remedy the EPA selected for the site and will cost the companies approximately $100 million to do, according to a press release from the EPA.

The site, the release states, spans 1.5 miles of the Woonasquatucket River, and encompasses a 9-acre peninsula, two ponds and a forested wetland. A chemical manufacturing plant operated on the site from the 1940s until the 1970s, and “elevated levels” of dioxins and other contaminants were detected in the soil, groundwater, surface water, sediment and fish, the release states.

U.S. District Court had previously found Black & Decker and Emhart to be liable for hazardous waste left at the site and responsible for the cleanup, but the court also ruled EPA needed to reconsider “certain aspects” of the cleanup, according to the release, a decision EPA subsequently appealed.

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The cleanup remedy Emhart and Black & Decker must perform includes excavating contaminated sediment and floodplain soil from the river and from adjacent residential properties, the release states. They also must upgrade caps over the contaminated soil in the peninsula area that currently houses two high-rise apartment buildings. Full access to the Woonasquatucket River “should be restored” to residents, making the river fishable and swimmable, when the cleanup is finished.

The companies must also reimburse the EPA for approximately $42 million in “past costs” incurred on the site, the release states, and also reimburse both the EPA and the state for “future costs incurred by those agencies in overseeing the work required by the settlement.”

“This settlement demonstrates the tremendous progress we are achieving working with responsible parties, states and our federal partners to expedite sites through the entire Superfund remediation process,” EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement Monday. “The Centredale Manor site has been on the national priorities List for 18 years. We are taking charge and ensuring the agency makes good on its promise to clean it up for the betterment of the environment and those communities affected.”

R.I. DEM Director Janet L. Coit said in a statement Monday the settlement will “speed up” a remedy that “protects public health and the river environment, and moves us closer to the day that we can reclaim recreational uses of this beautiful river resource.”

James Bessette is a PBN staff writer. Email him at