Six States, Seven Tribes Sue Polluters for $20 Million

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (CN) — Six states, seven tribes and the United States want two zinc smelters and their top officers ordered to bear the costs of cleaning up dozens of old mining and smelting sites and the rivers they polluted.

Lead defendant Blue Tee no longer has a corporate headquarters. It is a legal successor to American Zinc and a legal predecessor to defendant Brown Strauss. Also sued are company president and CFO David P. Alldian, former Blue Tee director Richard A. Secrist and company director William M. Kelly. Among the demands in the lawsuit is recovery of transfers worth more than $20 million made by Blue Tee to the defendant officers.

The 46-page federal lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice and attorneys general of the several states presents a wasteland of toxic metals, including lead, zinc and cadmium strewn about 11 Superfund sites, at least three rivers, and lands of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe, Ottawa, Peoria, Seneca-Cayuga, Wyandotte, Miami and Cherokee nations.

Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Tennessee joined Uncle Sam and the tribes as plaintiffs.

A Brown Strauss employee who answered the phone at the company’s Colorado headquarters Thursday said the person who handles media inquiries was not available. The Department of Justice did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment late Thursday afternoon.

The plaintiffs seek compensation for environmental cleanups under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980.

Among the sites polluted by the defendants’ zinc and lead mining and smelting are located in Caney, Kan.; Leadpoint, Wash.; Taylor Springs, Ill.; San Juan County, Colo.; Neihart, Mont.; Cherokee, Montgomery, Allen and Wilson counties in Kansas; Pend Oreille County in Washington; Jasper and Newton counties in Missouri; Klondyke, Ariz.; Fairmont City, Ill.; Ouray, Colo.; Sauget, Ill.; Cahokia, Ill.; Roane County in Tennessee; and Ottawa County in Oklahoma.

“Plaintiffs seek to recover from the Corporate Defendants: (a) costs incurred or to be incurred for removal and remedial actions taken or to be taken in response to releases and threats of releases of hazardous substances at the American Zinc, Lead and Smelting Company (“American Zinc”) Sites, as defined herein; and (b) Natural Resource Damages (“NRD”) resulting from releases or threats of releases of hazardous substances at and from the American Zinc Sites, as defined herein,” the complaint states.

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