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Companies to pay $1.4 million to settle SE Missouri pollution claim

Companies to pay $1.4 million to settle SE Missouri pollution claim


The owners of a former metals mining operation in southeastern Missouri have agreed to pay $1.4 million to settle government claims related to alleged environmental damages.

Teck American Inc. and DII Industries Inc. agreed to the payment in a consent decree with the U.S. government and state of Missouri. The agreement was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

The 22-page settlement would resolve a lawsuit filed with the court on Friday alleging damages from the Magmont Mine and Mill Site near Bixby, Mo. The zinc, lead and copper mine and mill operated from 1968 until 1994.

The lawsuit said Teck and DII Industries were responsible for releases of hazardous substances into the air, water and soil that damaged or destroyed natural resources and harmed birds and aquatic life.

According to court papers, Teck and DII Industries denied the allegations in the lawsuit and don’t admit any liability in the proposed settlement.

Dave Godlewski, vice president of environment and public affairs for Teck American, said the company was satisfied with terms of the consent decree.

“This allows us to move forward with the full reclamation and closure of the site,” he said.

A joint venture between Cominco American Inc. and Dresser Industries owned the mine and mill site. The operation was run by Cominco, now Teck American, a Spokane, Wash.-based unit of Teck Resources Ltd. DII Industries is a successor to Dresser and is now owned by oilfield services giant Halliburton.

A Halliburton spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached.

The Magmont Mine and Mill Site includes tailings impoundments, drainage basins and other facilities in Iron County. The operation is situated within Mark Twain National Forest and the Viburnum Trend, a huge vein of lead ore that stretches for some 40 miles across several southeastern Missouri counties.

Millions of tons of metal-bearing rock were mined during the 26-year life of the mine, which reached 1,200 feet deep. The ore was milled onsite, producing hundreds of thousands of fine tailings deposited into impoundments that ultimately drained into Left Fork of Neals Creek, a tributary of the Black River.

A damage assessment hasn’t been finalized. But state and federal agencies gathered and analyzed enough information to quantify damages and support a fair settlement, the consent decree said.

The agreement is subject to court approval after a 30-day public comment period.

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