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Kodak, the 131-year-old photography pioneer, filed for bankruptcy on January 19th 2012.Eastman Kodak announced early this morning that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy was “the right thing to do for the future” of the company.In a statement, Kodak CEO Antonio Perez said company leadership decided the move was “a necessary step.”Innovation Trail has followed the story over the course of 2012.

EPA objects to Kodak's environmental plan

Eastman Business Park

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has filed a formal objection to Kodak’s proposed environmental liability plan for the Eastman Business Park (EBP).

Under the plan proposed in the U.S Bankruptcy Court last month, Kodak would no longer be liable for environmental damage and contamination at the site caused by past operations.

Instead, liability would be assumed by a $49 million trust endowed by the company.

The proposed environmental plan is part of a settlement package that would allow Kodak to emerge from chapter 11 bankruptcy.

But, in a filing submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Tuesday night, the EPA said they are not confident the 49 million dollar trust will be sufficient, as contamination at sites of the size and complexity seen at Eastman Business Park is often costly to remediate.

In a statement Wednesday, federal officials also stated that the EPA does not intend to waive its rights to sue Kodak after the company exits bankruptcy.

“The EPA is being requested to waive its rights to sue Kodak under federal environmental laws after the company emerges from bankruptcy. In today’s filing, the EPA maintains its right to take action if necessary in the future to achieve hazardous waste cleanup at the Kodak facility and the adjacent Genesee River, which has been impacted by contamination from the facility. The EPA is concerned that the $49 million to be set aside under the Agreement may not be sufficient to complete the cleanup.”

If approved, the Kodak settlement would require both the state and federal agencies to waive their rights to sue the company in the future for the past environmental damages caused at EBP.

In response to the objection, Kodak officials said in a statement Wednesday that they’re confident in the calculation of the environmental trust fund.

“We believe the EBP settlement is in the best interests of New York State, the tenants of EBP, the company and the community and we will continue to work with interested parties to bring this agreement to fruition. The calculation of the fund amount is based on a great deal of agency expertise and knowledge from more than 20 years of oversight and direction of work to characterize the site and address legacy environmental issues. So the assessment has been made with a great precision and the parties have confidence in its accuracy.”

However, Wednesday morning the company did file to withdraw their motion to have the settlement plan approved by the Bankruptcy Court.

Kodak spokesman Chris Veronda says this does not mean the company is giving up on the agreement, but they’ll continue to work with parties to bring the settlement to fruition.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail
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