From: Roger Greenway, ENN
Published December 11, 2009 11:16 AM

ASARCO Settlement Provides Significant Clean Up Benefits

The US Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, and the Justice Department announced this week that $1.79 billion has been paid to fund environmental cleanup and restoration under a bankruptcy reorganization of American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO), a leading producer of copper and one of the largest nonferrous metal producers in the United States.

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The money from environmental settlements in the bankruptcy will be used to pay for past and future costs incurred by federal and state agencies at more than 80 sites contaminated by ASARCO mining operations in 19 states. Those states are Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

"Today’s landmark enforcement settlement will provide almost one billion dollars to clean up polluted Superfund sites," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "This will mean cleaner land, water and air for communities across the country."

"In consultation and collaboration with our state and tribal co-trustees, this money will be used exclusively to restore, replace or acquire the equivalent of resources injured at more than a dozen sites where ASARCO operated and we have identified natural resource damage," said Interior Assistant Secretary Tom Strickland.

"This settlement provides significant resources to address land restoration from past mining activities on National Forest System lands in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana and Washington," said Joel Holtrop, Deputy Chief for the National Forest System, U.S. Forest Service, Department of Agriculture.

Under the terms of the plan, all allowed claims were paid in full along with interest. Funds were distributed as follows:

The United States received approximately $776 million, which will be distributed in accordance with the underlying settlements to address 35 different sites;

The  Coeur d'Alene Work Trust was paid $436 million;

The three custodial trusts which address the owned but not operating properties of ASARCO and involve a total of 13 states and 24 sites were paid a cumulative total of approximately $261 million; and

Payments totaling in excess of $321 million were paid to 14 different states to fund environmental settlement obligations at 36 individual sites.

In total, the payment will address environmental cleanup and restoration at more than 80 sites around the country. Much of the money paid to the United States will be placed in special accounts in the Superfund to be used by EPA to pay for future cleanup work. It will also be placed into accounts at the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to pay for natural resource restoration.

For more information: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/C40DD49B8EEBE5FF85257688006C9C7F

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