The former chief executive officer of a defunct company that ran a manufacturing site on Long Island is on the hook for more than $48 million in Superfund cleanup costs, the Northern District of New York ruled.

Former CEO Gerald Cohen will share liability with Lawrence Aviation Industries Inc. for the clean up of soils contaminated with heavy metals, arsenic and PCBs, the court said.

Cohen is as an “operator” of a facility because he controlled and directed activities at the Lawrence Aviation site since its inception in 1959 until its close in 2004, the court said.

The evidence is...