Judgment Reached 9 Years After Pollution Cleanup Lawsuit Filed

Atlantic Richfield Co., a subsidiary of BP America, will pay over $16 million and 25% of future clean up costs to Asarco, a mining company, to help pay for environmental clean up costs after a Wednesday judgment in the Montana District Court lawsuit. 

The lawsuit began almost 9 years ago, when Asarco LLC filed the initial complaint against British Petroleum PLC and American Chemet Corporation asking the court for relief under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. Asarco was seeking recovery of about $114 million which it claimed it spent to clean up pollution from the defendants which spread through the East Helena Superfund Site. The defendants reportedly operated facilities near the site where they stored and processed metals. 

The court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, that Atlantic Richfield is responsible, and should be held liable for 25% of the future costs, $15,337,590 in response costs which is 25% of previous costs, prejudgment interest since the lawsuit was filed, fees for post-judgment interest and costs, and an additional $1 million “based on th(e) Court’s previous findings regarding Atlantic Richfield’s lack of cooperation.” 

According to the judgment, the smelting and fuming activities near the site led to groundwater contamination, specifically with arsenic. Asarco, the plaintiff, previously settled its environmental liabilities with Montana and the United States and sought to hold other entities responsible as well for their share of the response costs. 

The judgment detailed the costs spent by the plaintiff and other parties to clean the site, and the history of the case. It reported that a 45 acre “slag pile” which is 120 tall at one point continues to contaminate the groundwater with arsenic, and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Reportedly, cleanup and corrective steps at the site includes ongoing monitoring of groundwater. 

Atlantic Richfield Company is represented by Davis Graham & Stubbs, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Boone Karlberg. Asarco is represented by McGuireWoods, Integer Law, Kris A. McLean Law Firm, Milodragovich Dale Steinbrenner, and Wall, McLean & Gallagher