Colorado will score $42 million from ASARCO reorganization plan

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From the Cortez Journal (Joe Hanel):

A Texas judge on Tuesday finalized the reorganization plan for ASARCO Inc., a copper mining and smelting company that owned mines around Silver Lake, which sits west of Silverton at 12,000 feet. In all, Colorado will get $42 million from the $1.7 billion reorganization plan. The state will use $16 million for ASARCO’s smelter in north Denver. The rest will go to mine cleanup around Colorado, including the Summitville site in Rio Grande County, according to a news release from Attorney General John Suthers.

“ASARCO’s reorganization is exceptional in that Colorado and the federal government will recover every dollar they claimed for environmental remediation – plus interest,” Suthers said. “These funds will go a long way to improving and remediating sites ASARCO operated at throughout the state.”[…]

The settlement was a happy surprise for Bill Simon of the Animas River Stakeholders Group, which works on mine cleanup around Silverton. “It seems like $4 million would be more than we expected,” Simon said. “That sounds very good.” ASARCO owned property and mines around Silver Lake, including the lake itself, Simon said. The area saw heavy mining in the late 1800s and early 1900s, and now waste and tailings from the mines are stacked next to the lake and cover the lake bed. At least one mine is draining acid into the lake, Simon said. However, cleanup of the lake hasn’t been the top priority for the Animas River Stakeholders. “That area is so remote and so difficult to remediate, we would probably like to use those funds in a more appropriate area and get more bang for our buck,” Simon said.

More coverage from The Denver Post (Tim Hoover). From the article:

The Globe plant has been the site for smelting or refining a number of heavy metals since 1886, and neighborhoods around it have undergone intensive environmental cleanup efforts for decades. Rep. Joel Judd, D-Denver, whose district includes the neighborhoods around the plant, said he hoped the bankruptcy plan would move the Globe site closer to being reused. “That thing’s been sort of a blight on a hill looking down on Globeville for a century,” Judd said. “It has the potential to be a residential site.”

Randall Weiner, an attorney who has represented Globe ville residents in a lawsuit against Asarco, said the bankruptcy plan appeared to also be good for his clients. “I suspect that moneys will be released, and they (residents in the lawsuit) will all receive the moneys that Asarco promised them 10 years ago,” Weiner said.

More Colorado Water coverage here.

2 thoughts on “Colorado will score $42 million from ASARCO reorganization plan

  1. The Summitville clean up is still active. Stimulus money is going to be used to provide a 1600 gallon/minute water treatment plant in 2010(which appears to be a 3rd attempt at water treatment). It began leaking in 1986. The site was abandoned by the mining company in 1992, leaving the taxpayer to clean it up. It immediately landed in EPA’s hands and they declared it a Superfund site in 1994. And here we are in 2009… 23 YEARS LATER with the site still active! Plus, now we are supposed to rejoice that the ASARCO bankruptcy is going to provide $42M to Colorado? How much of that will go to Summitville? I’ve got a question in to EPA about how much this cleanup alone has cost. One figure as of the end of the 1990s was $150M. I’d love to see the numbers kept in one place (nowhere in the government accounting is this done) that declares the total/true cost to the taxpayer for cleanups after companies abandon these sites!

    1. Kay,

      Thanks for commenting. You’re right of course. The U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for billions from companies that have walked away from problems. I think that the treatment plant for Summitville is included in the ASARCO money.

      Update: I was incorrect. The Summitville water treatment plant is being funded out of ARRA dough:

      John Orr

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