CERCLA: ASARCO’s request for contribution from Atlantic Richfield for $99,294,000 paid under 2009 consent decree for East Helena Site barred by 3-year statute… Christensen.
ASARCO operated a lead smelter at East Helena 1888-2001. Atlantic Richfield’s predecessor Anaconda Co. operated a zinc fuming plant on land leased from ASARCO 1927-72. ASARCO purchased the zinc plant in 1972 and operated it until 1982. Operations released numerous hazardous substances, causing EPA to add the site to the CERCLA Superfund in 1984. ASARCO and EPA entered into several consent decrees including one dated 5/5/98 that resolved claims for multiple violations of the RCRA and CWA and which transferred site-related cleanup to the RCRA program. ASARCO filed Ch. 11 in 2005. The US and Montana filed proofs of claim and entered into 2 settlements as to the East Helena Site, the 2nd of which was a consent decree in 6/09 which resolved ASARCO’s environmental labilities to the governments at several sites including East Helena and created a custodial trust and trust account for each of the Montana properties. It also required ASARCO to transfer all property rights & interests in the East Helena Site to the trust and pay $99,294,000 into the trust account for that Site. Bankruptcy Court approved ASARCO’s reorganization plan in 11/09. ASARCO filed this complaint in 6/12 seeking contribution pursuant to CERCLA for the $99,294,000. Atlantic Richfield seeks summary judgment that CERCLA’s 3-year statute for such contribution claims began to run upon entry of the 1998 decree, and that the 2009 decree does not create any specific or new obligations as to the East Helena Site that were not covered in the 1998 decree.
Because ASARCO failed to file a claim for contribution within 3 years of the 1998 consent decree, its contribution action is time-barred pursuant to CERCLA §113(g) (3)(B). The 2009 consent decree does not create any additional work or liability as to the East Helena Site outside of the 1998 consent decree, and ASARCO has failed to raise any genuine issues for trial. Dismissed.
ASARCO v. Atlantic Richfield, 42 MFR 15, 8/26/14.
Greg Evans & Laura Brys (Integer Law), LA, and Adam Duerk (Milodragovich, Dale & Steinbrenner), Missoula, for ASARCO; Randy Cox & Randy Tanner (Boone Karlberg), Missoula, William Duffy, Kenzo Kawanabe, and Ben Strawn (Davis Graham & Stubbs), Denver, and Elizabeth Temkin (Temkin Wielga & Hardt), Denver, for Atlantic Richfield.
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