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Superfund Task Force Chair Previously Worked For Suspected Polluter

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     A lawyer tapped to lead a task force at the Environmental Protection Agency overseeing cleanups at the nation's most polluted places worked until recently for a top chemical and plastics manufacturer with a legacy of creating some of those toxic sites.
    Steven D. Cook has been named as the new chair of the Superfund Task Force, created last year by EPA Administrator and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.
    The agency is to oversee cleanup at toxic sites -- including the Tar Creek site in northeast Oklahoma and southeast Kansas, polluted by old mining activity.
    Before beginning work in February as deputy assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management, Cook served more than 20 years as in-house corporate counsel for LyondellBasell Industries - one of the world's largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies.
    EPA records show that LyondellBasell and its subsidiaries are listed as being potentially responsible for at least three dozen Superfund polluted sites.
    Cook is taking over as chair of the Superfund Task Force following the resignation of Albert "Kell" Kelly, a longtime friend and business associate of Pruitt's. AP reported in August that federal banking regulators had banned Kelly, who had previously been the chairman of Oklahoma-based SpiritBank, from banking for life. Members of Congress had been pressing for details about what led to the banking sanctions against Kelly when he quit his EPA job.
 

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