- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 3, 2015

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - Mining company Asarco will shell out millions in a settlement with the federal government over toxic materials emitted from its smelter in Hayden, Arizona.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency announced the deal on Tuesday, saying Asarco, a subsidiary of Grupo Mexico, will have to spend over $150 million to remediate emissions of toxic materials.

Asarco will also have to pay $4.5 million in a civil penalty, $8 million to fund local environmental projects and $1 million to replace a diesel locomotive with a cleaner model.

The EPA found in November 2011 that the company failed to comply with emissions-control requirements. The EPA says the smelter can emit over 10 tons of arsenic and lead each year.

“This settlement will bring tremendous benefits to public health and the environment in Arizona for generations to come through dramatic cuts to harmful air emissions,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The requirements of this consent decree will not only bring ASARCO into compliance with the nation’s clean air law, but will also result in testing for lead contamination in area homes and improvements to nearby roads to further improve air quality.”

In a statement, Asarco said its plan to retrofit a converter will result in the Hayden smelter being among the cleanest in the world.

“ASARCO is committed to ensuring that the environment in Hayden is clean and safe, and we are thrilled that we’ve reached an agreement with EPA to move forward with the modifications to the smelter,” said Jack Garrity, the company’s technical services manager. “We believe we can accomplish the project safely and in an environmentally sound fashion while continuing to operate the smelter at normal capacity.”

The project will take about three years to complete, Asarco said.

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