Thursday, December 10, 2009

Largest Environmental Bankruptcy In History Funds Cleanup

As a result of the largest environmental bankruptcy in U.S. history, $1.79 billion has been paid to fund environmental cleanup and restoration under a bankruptcy reorganization of American Smelting and Refining Company.

ASARCO is a leading producer of copper and one of the largest nonferrous metal producers in the United States. It is based in Arizona and is responsible for sites around the country that are contaminated with hazardous waste.

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 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.

ASARCO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2005. American Smelting and Refining Company or ASARCO has operated for nearly 110 years—first as a holding company for diverse smelting, refining, and mining operations throughout the United States and now as the Arizona-based integrated copper-mining, smelting, and refining company.

By the time it filed for bankruptcy, ASARCO’s core operating assets were limited to operations in Arizona and Texas. However, it continued to own numerous non-operating properties that were highly contaminated and was subject to environmental claims at sites that were not owned by the company.

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