Court approves $1.6 million settlement of air-pollution suit

BALTIMORE (AP) – A judge has approved a $1.6 million settlement of a 16-year-old air-pollution lawsuit against a western Maryland paper mill.

U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis signed the consent decree Friday involving the mill in Luke, currently owned by Verso Corp. of Memphis, Tennessee.

The agreement is between the federal government and WestRock Co. of Norcross, Georgia. WestRock is a successor to Westvaco Corp., the mill’s owner when regulators alleged Clean Air Act violations in 2000.

WestRock agreed to make two payments of $800,000 each to improve Shenandoah National Park in Virginia and the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia.

Garbis found that Westvaco had expanded the mill without a required permit, starting in 1981. But he ruled that the government could not collect penalties because it waited too long to sue.