Sherwin-Williams Wants Details On $2.4B Cleanup

Paint manufacturer one of three companies facing cleanup of roughly 240,000 homes containing lead paint that would take four years and require about 10,000 workers.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Sherwin-Williams Co. has demanded more information about the state's proposed $2.4 billion cleanup of properties contaminated with lead paint, saying the plan has too many unanswered questions.
 
Sherwin-Williams is one of three former lead paint manufacturers found liable last year of creating a public nuisance in a landmark lawsuit brought by the Rhode Island attorney general.
 
In September, the state proposed a multibillion-dollar cleanup of roughly 240,000 homes containing lead paint that it said would take four years and require an estimated 10,000 workers. The companies would have to pay for the work if the February 2006 verdict stands.
 
The companies are appealing the jury's verdict to the state Supreme Court.
 
In court papers filed last week, Sherwin-Williams identified 20 broad categories of questions about the plan that it said still needed to be answered, including which specific properties are covered by the plan and how many children, if any, live in those homes.
 
It also wants to know how the companies will be able to gain access to contaminated properties and how reluctant homeowners will be forced to participate in the cleanup program.
 
Charles Moellenberg Jr., a lawyer for Sherwin-Williams, said the company was seeking an evidentiary hearing to explore those and other issues.
 
''We're concerned that in this situation, the attorney general and his lawyers are trying to get off to the races too quickly,'' Moellenberg said. ''We'd like the court to slow down and follow what is the normal course of procedures in any case.''
 
The other two companies that lost the case, NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings LLC, did not join in Sherwin-Williams' motion.
 
Jack McConnell, a lawyer who represents the state, said Sherwin-Williams was rehashing old arguments that already had been rejected by Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein. In particular, he said the judge had consistently turned down the company's efforts to obtain more specific information on individual contaminated properties.
 
He said the judge plans to receive recommendations from an outside expert, or special master, on what information — if any — is needed to evaluate the plan further. Silverstein has interviewed several candidates for the position.
 
''It's no different than what they've been whining about for a year now, which is they want delay and we want abatement,'' he said.
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