Bankruptcy of ASARCO, El Paso, Texas
Settlement in Bankruptcy
On March 19, 2009, the TCEQ, the EPA, and ASARCO filed a settlement agreement in the bankruptcy court entitled, "Consent Decree and Settlement Agreement Establishing a Custodial Trust for the Owned Smelter Site in El Paso, Texas and the Owned Zinc Smelter Site in Amarillo, Texas." Under the settlement agreement, ASARCO's El Paso smelter property (approximately 458 acres) will be placed in an environmental custodial trust. The custodial trust will be funded with a payment of $52,000,000 from ASARCO to address contamination on the property. An additional $80,000 will be placed in the custodial trust for maintenance of a cap on property in Amarillo, for total trust funding of $52,080,000.
Notice of the settlement and information on how the public may comment has been published in both the Texas Register and the Federal Register. While both the state and federal comment periods on the settlement are currently closed, the comment period re-opened for the duration of the public meeting on May 11, 2009. At this public meeting, presentations were given by the U.S. Department of Justice, the EPA, and the TCEQ.
Within the ASARCO bankruptcy, parties in that case have until April 6, 2009, to object to the settlement. A hearing on the settlement was held on May 18-19, 2009. The TCEQ has exchanged two expert's reports with other parties in the bankruptcy proceedings that support the $52 million cost figure for the settlement.
On May 14, 2009, TCEQ's responses to the comments received on the settlement were filed with the bankruptcy court. On May 15, 2009, the United States filed its responses to comments concerning the El Paso settlement as well as other environmental settlements under consideration by the bankruptcy court.
On June 5, 2009, the bankruptcy court approved the settlement agreement concerning the El Paso Smelter and the Amarillo Smelter Sites. On November 13, 2009, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi Division, issued an order confirming the plan of reorganization put forth by Americas Mining Corporation, the parent corporation of the debtor. This plan implements the settlement referenced above that places $52,080,000 in an environmental custodial trust to address remedial activities.