EPA, states and tribes seek millions for cleanup costs of American Zinc, Lead and Smelting sites

By Carrie Salls | Nov 9, 2018

JOPLIN – Several federal, state and Native American entities filed a lawsuit on Oct. 31 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, alleging that Blue Tee Corp., Brown Strauss Inc. and three individual defendants should be held responsible for the cleanup of hazard substances that were allegedly released at former American Zinc, Lead and Smelting Co. sites.

The plaintiffs include United States of America, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency; the Department of the Interior; the Department of Agriculture; the states of Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Montana and Tennessee; and the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma, the Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma, the Seneca-Cayuga Nation, the Wyandotte Nation, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation.

The individual defendants named in the suit include Blue Tee Chief Financial Officer, President and board member and Brown Strauss board member David Alldian, former Blue Tee officer and director Richard Secrist, and Blue Tee and Brown Strauss board member William Kelly.

The suit states Blue Tee is the legal successor to American Zinc, and Brown Strauss is a legal successor to Blue Tee.

The American Zinc sites for which the plaintiffs are seeking reimbursement of the costs of remediation of the alleged release of hazardous substances are located throughout Kansas, Washington, Illinois, Colorado, Montana, Missouri, Arizona, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

The plaintiffs said in the complaint that “American Zinc owned and operated facilities that released or threatened to release hazardous substances into the environment at each and every one of the American Zinc sites.”

“There have been injuries to, destruction of and losses of natural resources resulting from the release of the hazardous substances” at the sites, according to the complaint.

The federal government, the states and the tribes allege they racked up costs as part of their efforts to resolve issues related to the release or potential release of hazardous substances at the sites for which they are responsible.

In addition to seeking a ruling holding Blue Tee and Brown Strauss liable for the costs incurred by the plaintiffs, the court is being asked to rule that Alldian is responsible for $7.3 million in costs, plus interest, incurred by the federal government since April 30, 2016, to hold Secrist responsible for $6.78 million and to hold Kelly responsible for $6.36 million.

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