Dec 14, 2009

Seven Superfund Sites to Receive Funds From Nation's Largest Environmental Bankruptcy Settlement

Money to fund environmental cleanup and restoration work

At least seven Superfund sites in U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7, including five in Missouri and one each in Kansas and Nebraska, will receive a total of $282 million, plus interest, to fund environmental cleanup and restoration work as a result of a legal settlement in the largest environmental bankruptcy case in U.S. history, according to a release issued by the EPA.

The seven sites in Region 7 are among more than 80 Superfund sites in 19 states receiving portions of a $1.79 billion settlement from the reorganization of the American Smelting and Refining Company LLC (ASARCO). The funds will be used to pay for past and future costs incurred by federal and state agencies to address environmental contamination caused by ASARCO's operations around the country.

Region 7's affected sites and their respective funding amounts include Big River Mine Tailings/St. Joe Minerals Corp. ($17,072,427), Federal Mine Tailings ($7,743,418), Madison County Mines ($12,684,155), all in southeast Missouri; Jasper County/Oronogo-Duenweg Mining Belt ($21,402,000) and Newton County Mine Tailings ($11,484,000), both in southwest Missouri; Cherokee County ($25,114,000) in southeast Kansas; and Nebraska's Omaha Lead Site ($186,500,000). These amounts do not include interest payments, as required by the settlement.

ASARCO, an Arizona-based mining company that, according to the release, is responsible for multiple sites around the country that are contaminated with hazardous waste, filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the U.S. bankruptcy code on Aug. 9, 2005. Funds paid to the United States from the reorganization settlement will be placed into special Superfund accounts to pay for cleanup work. Funds will also be placed into accounts at the Department of Interior and the Department of Agriculture to pay for natural resource restoration at the sites.

Nationwide, the settlement will encompass the cleanup of 10.5 million cu yd of soil, or enough to cover nearly 2,000 football fields 3 ft deep. The funding will also address the cleanup of 5 million cu yd of contaminated water at the various sites, or enough to fill more than 1,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.