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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has moved to require five school districts in Kentucky and Ohio to help pay the costs of cleaning up a toxic-dump site left by a hazardous-waste-disposal firm with which they had contracted.

The largest case involves the Jefferson County, Ky., school system, which agreed last month to pay $20,000 to the epa for cleanup of a contaminated site containing an estimated 1,000 gallons of the district's chemical wastes.

The five districts were among 132 businesses and institutions cited for having contracted with Pristine Inc., an Ohio firm that the federal agency claims used improper procedures for incinerating and disposing of hazardous materials.

Under the federal "Superfund" law, the producers of hazardous wastes are responsible for cleaning up toxic sites, even when the materials were initially disposed of by an independent contractor.

Federal officials estimate that it will cost $13 million to take care of the dump site, which is located near Cincinnati.

Three of the four districts in Ohio that were asked to pay $2,000 each have agreed to the epa's settlement offer.

The four districts that have accepted the federal offer will be absolved of most future liability regarding the site.

But the Cincinnati school district, which did not respond to the agency's offer by a mid-April deadline, may be subject to a lawsuit by the epa

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