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Asarco loses appeal vs. lawsuit dismissal

Keywords: Tags  copper, Asarco, Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, Union Pacific Railroad, Grupo Mexico, Saranya Kapur

NEW YORK — A federal court’s dismissal of copper miner Asarco LLC’s lawsuit to shift some of the burden of a $1.5-million pollution settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Asarco had sought a contribution from Union Pacific Railroad Co. and Pepsi-Cola Metropolitan Bottling Co. Inc. under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, but the U.S. District Court in Colorado ruled that Asarco waited too long to file its lawsuit.

The EPA filed a claim against Asarco for pollution at a four-square-mile area in Denver where Omaha, Neb.-based Union Pacific and Somers, N.Y.-based Pepsi also operated. The claim was still pending when Asarco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2005. Asarco’s initial agreement with the EPA began June 5, 2009, but its suit against Union Pacific and Pepsi was not filed until Dec. 10, 2012.

Tucson, Ariz.-based Asarco, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico SAB de CV, claimed its lawsuit was filed within the appropriate time frame as the plan did not become effective until Dec. 9, 2009, when its actual liability of $1.5 million was fixed.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling that the statute of limitations began on June 5, 2009, when the bankruptcy court approved the settlement agreement.

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