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Environmental Pollution

Kansas city, MO: (Mar-04-08) Two local attorneys brought lawsuits against Asarco LLC, a Tucson, AZ based metal refining company, on behalf of minors and property owners who lived on or near the Tar Creek Superfund site in Picher, OK, just across the state line from Kansas. The suit claimed that the plaintiffs suffered personal injury and property damage because of the proximity to one of the biggest and most polluted sites in the country. Experts said that Picher, which boasted a population of 16,000 before World War II, is nearly deserted now, due to lead and zinc mines that produced giant piles of contaminating waste which polluted nearby air and groundwater. The mines were shut down more than three decades ago and some of them have collapsed, rendering the city virtually uninhabitable.

The lawsuits were filed on behalf of children exposed to lead contaminants and homeowners whose property values had plummeted due to the proximity of the waste and dust contamination. As part of a settlement reached, Asarco has agreed to settle 73 personal injury claims for nearly $7 million and 500 property claims for another $7 million. Sources stated that though the company is under Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the claims should be paid out at close to 100 percent because of the high prices that metals are fetching.

Records show that in 2007 Asarco reached a settlement with the federal government and the states of Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas over Tar Creek and other Superfund sites. The settlement was valued at $91 million. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency said it would fund the buyout of homes and pay for soil and water remediation in Picher. [KANSAS CITY STAR: $14 MILLION WON FOR VICTIMS OF SUPERFUND SITE]

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Published on Mar-5-08


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