Friday, February 17, 2012

ASARCO Settlement Speeds Washington Arsenic Cleanup

By: Duane Craig

Washington state is moving ahead with the cleanup of hundreds of parcels of land in Everett, where smelter operations more than 100 years ago contaminated the soil with arsenic, according to an article in seattlepi.

The Asarco smelter operated from 1894 to 1912, right near the intersection of current day E. Marine View Drive and Highway 529. Besides dangerously high levels of arsenic, there was also lead and cadmium contamination, and none of it was discovered until 1990. The smelter also contaminated the Snohomish River, two parks, and Legion and Wiggums Hollow. There were 100 parcels cleaned up between 1999 and 2007, and in 2009 the state received $34 million in a settlement from Grupo Mexico, the current owners of Asarco.

In 2009, the bankruptcy and environmental settlement agreements with Asarco netted the EPA, federal agencies and states a little more than $1.79 billion to address contamination at over 80 sites in 20 states. The settlement was termed the largest bankruptcy settlement ever under the Superfund program, and it included full payment of the EPA’s claims plus interest. Washington state received $188 million of that settlement money to repair environmental damage across the state.

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