| SALMON, Idaho
SALMON, Idaho Feb 14 A BP affiliate will
pay over $6.7 million for cleanup and damages stemming from
mining and smelter operations that caused heavy metal pollution
in Idaho, the U.S. Attorney in the state said on Monday.
The federal government sued Arco in 1990 for contamination
from the now defunct Bunker Hill Mining and Metallurgical
Complex near Kellogg in the Silver Valley, a historic lead, zinc
and silver mining area along the Coeur d'Alene River.
The settlement between the U.S. government and BP-owned
Atlantic Richfield Co, or Arco, calls for about $5 million to
reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for cleaning
up the Superfund site, U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson said.
Some $1.7 million will go to Idaho, the Coeur d'Alene Tribe
and federal land agencies for damage to natural resources, Olson
Daren Beaudo, a spokesman for the energy company BP, on
Monday hailed the end of negotiations, saying in an email that
Arco "is pleased" to have "reached this settlement agreement
with federal, state and tribal governments."
The oil company Arco bought out Anaconda Mining Co, the
owner of the complex, in 1977 in an effort to generate revenues
from a broad array of natural resources.
BP in 2000 acquired Arco. Under the Superfund law, BP
assumed part of the environmental liability for any cleanup and
damages linked to the defunct Bunker Hill operation.
Bunker Hill's smelter releases, waste piles and processing
caused water, air and soil contamination by such toxic metals as
lead and arsenic, according to the Idaho Department of
EPA documents say residents near the Bunker Hill complex
were exposed to dangerous levels of lead, which can affect the
nervous system and cause developmental abnormalities.
The EPA estimates that between 70 million and 100 million
tons of mining waste is spread throughout the area's streams,
flood plains and lakes, with contaminated sediments found in
Lake Coeur d'Alene and the Spokane River.
A cleanup effort, one of the largest in the nation's
history, has restored inland sockeye salmon to Coeur d'Alene
River stretches that, for decades, were devoid of life because
of heavy metals, according to the Idaho Department of
Blood testing indicates lead levels have been dropping in
children who live near the site, the agency said.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis)