Two companies that once insured Appleton Papers Inc. are liable for $10 million toward the cleanup of the Fox River after a court decision on June 8, the firm’s lawyer said.
Attorney Ron Ragatz says the ruling by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals means Munich Re AG and Westport Insurance Corp. which is owned by Swiss Re, are each now liable for $5 million under decades-old policies.
Ragatz said several other firms that insured Appleton between 1978 and 1986 have reached confidential settlements for their portion of the cleanup, which is expected to cost between $600 million and $700 million.
Munich spokeswoman Terese Rosenthal declined to comment, and a Westport lawyer did not return a phone message.
The cleanup overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency involves a 13-mile span of the river in northeastern Wisconsin, the largest environmental remediation project of its kind, said Scott Stein of the Fox River Cleanup Group. The project started last year and is expected to last until 2018.
Appleton’s corporate predecessor, the National Cash Register Co., dumped PCBs into the river between 1954 and 1971 as a byproduct of carbonless paper production. Production of PCBs was banned in 1979 after they were shown to cause cancer in wildlife and be a likely carcinogen for humans.
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