A McGuireWoods environmental litigation team’s opposition to a consent
decree by the U.S. and Oklahoma governments in which two major polluters
would pay only $15 million of an Oklahoma Superfund site cleanup bill
estimated at more than $500 million is drawing national attention.
The team, led by Los Angeles – Downtown office managing partner Greg Evans,
intervened on April 28 on behalf of mining client Asarco to challenge a
consent decree that would settle the federal and state governments’ lawsuit
against NL Industries Inc. and Doe Run Resources Corp.
Asarco, which has paid more than $57 million to the federal government for
recovery costs at northeastern Oklahoma’s Tar Creek Superfund site, claims
the proposed settlement is unfair and inconsistent with the Comprehensive
Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
Even though NL Industries and Doe Run “are demonstrably responsible for the
vast and massive environmental devastation currently spoiling” the Tar
Creek site, the two parties “propose to walk away from all cleanup
obligations for what is obviously only a fraction of their rightful
responsibility,” Evans asserts in Asarco’s petition.
“Asarco is committed to bringing all of the evidence before the court to
show that the proposed consent decree is not fair, reasonable or consistent
with the policy objectives of CERCLA,” Evans said in a
May 2 Law360 article.
Under the decree, NL would pay only $6.8 million and Doe Run would pay
about $3.5 million in cleanup costs, while the U.S. Department of the
Interior would contribute $5 million. Asarco notes that the government
provided no documentation establishing complete remediation costs in a bid
to justify its “bargain buy-out with selective and outdated cost
Lead and zinc mining for most of the 20th century contaminated the Tar