NCR announces settlement over longstanding environmental issue

Financial technology giant NCR said Tuesday it has entered a “consent decree” to settle longstanding litigation over environmental cleanup of a polluted Wisconsin River.

Duluth-based NCR is one of a number of companies, including Georgia-Pacific, involved in the years-long settlement and cleanup efforts over pollutants from paper plants in the Fox River near the city of Green Bay. The $1 billion-plus cleanup covers 29 miles of river dredging and capping.

The final phase of the cleanup is expected to cost $200 million and will be taken on by NCR, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. The Justice Department said NCR has performed dredging and capping of the site under protest, with funding and aid provided by a unit of Georgia-Pacific and P.H. Glatfelter Co. Georgia-Pacific and Glatfelter will take the lead role in long-term monitoring under prior court orders, the release said.

“After years of hard fought litigation, this settlement requires NCR to take full responsibility for completing this important cleanup effort,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said in the release. “Lawsuits and settlements like this vindicate the principle that polluters should pay the cost of Superfund cleanups, rather than the taxpayers.”

NCR, which makes automated tellers, retail checkout equipment and software for online merchants, said the settlement with the federal government, state of Wisconsin will include the company’s “commitments to complete the in-river cleanup work designed to remove polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the river,” as well as end any potential legal appeals.

The decree, which requires court approval, will also eliminate Superfund claims made against NCR by private parties.

“NCR is pleased with the successful resolution of this matter pending the court’s approval, following nine years of complex and protracted litigation involving multiple trials and appeals,” said Edward Gallagher, General Counsel of NCR Corporation. “NCR is pleased to put this matter behind us, and we are also glad to provide the federal and state governments and the people of Wisconsin confidence that the clean-up, which NCR commenced in 2009, will be completed without interruption or delay.”

NCR said it will not make settlement payments under the consent decree but it will fund its portion of the cleanup through 2018 on a “pay-as-it-goes basis” as it has since 2008.

NCR is currently building its future headquarters campus in Midtown near Georgia Tech. The company announced last year it will build a second phase even as the first phase is under construction.