NEW YORK A federal judge has ruled that Cemex Inc. is liable for part of the cleanup costs paid by Asarco LLC to remediate arsenic contamination of the Rio Grande near El Paso, Texas.
U.S. District Court Judge Philip R. Martinez ordered Cemex to pay $1.1 million under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Cercla) previously paid by the copper producer as part of a settlement with the federal government.
The judge ruled that Houston-based Cemex, which had refused to contribute to the Asarco settlement, failed to properly dispose of arsenic-containing waste from its kiln at its El Paso plant.
Cemex declined to comment.
Gregory Evans, Asarcos legal counsel in the case, said the ruling lays the groundwork for cost-recovery actions in other cases involving Tucson, Ariz.-based Asarco. "If a private party decides to pay the government to address environmental impacts, those that contributed to the waste that chose not to contribute can be made to pay later," he said in a statement.
Asarco also is pursuing Cercla cases against Atlantic Richfield Co., Los Angeles; Doe Run Resources Corp., St. Louis; and Union Pacific Railroad Co., Omaha, Neb.
The ruling by the U.S. District Court in Texas should encourage these companies to "settle with regulators, spare resources and pursue recovery from non-settling parties," Asarco said in a statement.