Blackwell OK residents sue Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold

Posted in the Morenci Forum

RU Aware

Albuquerque, NM

#1 Mar 1, 2009
More than 76% of the Blackwell OK homes tested in 2006 contained interior dust with lead exceeding EPA safety standards, and that more than 90% of Blackwell homes contained levels of arsenic that exceeded EPA standards. The plaintiffs also assert that "blood tests show that 30 percent of Blackwell's children have enough lead in the blood to cause brain damage."

The class action litigation argues that the "cleanup levels established for the companies by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality are not sufficient to protect the town's residents."

The lawsuit names as defendants defunct mining companies, such as Cyprus Amax and Amax Inc. The defendants with the deepest pockets named in the suit, which are still in business, are Phoenix-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF Railway). The plaintiffs assert that Phelps Dodge has been named "as a potentially responsible party in at least 13 Superfund sites."

When Mineweb asked two PD spokesmen as to whether -through due diligence-Phelps Dodge had determined if it was actually liable for the historic pollution of the old smelter prior to acquiring Cyprus Amax, Lewis responded that the issue was one to be determined by the courts.

The lawsuit asserts that the "plaintiffs' properties have been invaded by, and they have been exposed to, millions of pounds of toxic, damaging and hazardous waste material released as a result of the defendants' wrongful conduct at the former zinc production facility known as the Blackwell Zinc Smelter."

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