Kodak Cleanup: Trust Fund In Talks


Kodak is working to create a fund to pay for cleanup of past environmental problems, while it works its way through bankruptcy.

The company is working with Empire State Development to create a $49 million environmental trust fund to pay for cleanup at sites like Eastman Business Park and in the Genesee River.

It would protect Kodak from future liability.

According to court documents, as the end of December, Kodak reported a $96 million in environmental liabilities.

By the end of April, the company reported that it had resolved 27 claims but was still working to settle millions of dollars in claims with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Environmental attorney Ron Hull said trust funds have become common in the last five years during bankruptcy proceedings.

He cited one of the largest trust funds set up for environmental remediation as General Motors.

He said Kodak is no different in terms of wanting to protect its interests.

"That would assure the obligation and then the agreement would be the company is discharged from its obligations as far as the state is concerned," said Ron Hull, Senior Counsel at Underberg & Kessler.

If the settlement happens, Kodak's responsibility for historical environmental impacts at Eastman Business Park would become the responsibility of the EBP Trust.

Court documents said this would help speed-up the re-development pf that site.

The trust fund would be made up of $23 million contribution existing financial assurances from Kodak and another $26 million from the sale of the park utility infrastructure to Recycled Energy Development, LLC.

Kodak spokesperson Chris Veronda said the trust is still in negotiations and nothing is yet concrete.

Would the trust cover all future environmental liabilities?

Hull said if it runs out of money, then taxpayers would likely have to fund it.

Veronda said in a statement, "It's also quite possible that there could be excess funds that the state would get to keep and could commit then to other purposes once it was clear that the money was not needed to address additional remediation issues."

Kodak also said it has been working to clean up many past problems.

"For example, in the case of contaminated groundwater, there are water flow control systems in place surrounding areas of contamination that ensure that the flow of groundwater is back into the EBP site, not away from it. And on site is a network of some 800 monitoring and pumping wells that draw contaminated groundwater out of the ground and send it to our waste-water treatment plant. These systems have helped to greatly reduce the levels of contamination present over the years," said Veronda.

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