Big Pharma acquirers can expect their acquirees to carry some baggage, and that's the case with Pfizer. Its 2009 purchase of Wyeth came with a 435-acre federal Superfund site with years of pollution behind it, years of remediation ahead of it.
Each day, Pfizer pumps 650,000 gallons of groundwater from the site in Bridgewater, NJ, to a sewerage treatment plant, which eventually discharges it into the Raritan River. The manufacturing buildings are gone, a hangar-like enclosure in their place. Clean-up work is done beneath the structure.
Pfizer's effort is merely a continuation of Wyeth's. The latter bought the property from American Cyanamid in 1994. But the property's use dates back to 1915. Dye and chemical maker Calco owned it for years, and both it and American Cyanamid left their own peculiar pollution signature, including such contaminants as benzene. The drug giant is working with the EPA to expand the groundwater collection effort. Oil contamination clean-up is on the agenda, too.
The drug giant says it's involved in several multi-party Superfund sites. Most have earned that status thanks to now-defunct waste management practices or improper handled by disposal contractors, according to the company website. "The vast majority of remediation liability involves entities we acquired--not impacts we caused."