The Towns of Ithaca and Dryden are agreeing to help defend the City of Ithaca against a lawsuit related to the municipalities' jointly owned sewage plant on Third Street.

The city was sued in October by FirstEnergy, an Ohio-based corporation with a history connected to NYSEG. NYSEG is currently undertaking environmental cleanups to remove coal tar left from its predecessors at dozens of locations across the state, including two in Ithaca: the wastewater treatment plant, and the Markles Flats building on Court Street.

NYSEG sued FirstEnergy in 2003 to try to get that company to help pay for cleanup costs. FirstEnergy then sued the current property owners, the city and the Ithaca City School District.

Under state and federal law, the city had the right to turn around and sue the towns to pull them into the lawsuit, too. But in the agreement being considered by the three municipalities, the city agrees not to sue the towns, and to hold them harmless for any damages that arose before Dec. 22, 1981, the date the parties signed their agreement to create the Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Plant. In exchange, the towns agree to help pay the city's legal defense costs.

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