Bechtel Responds To News Of Summitville Complaint By Colorado Attorney General Salazar
Galactic Resources Inc. and Summitville Consolidated Mining Company Inc. (SCMCI) were the owners and operators of the Summitville project. Bechtel's services were limited to the engineering and construction of the milling and processing facilities at Summitville.
Bechtel was not involved in either engineering or constructing any of the areas of the project that were purportedly involved with either (a) the release of hazardous substances into the environment or (b) the subsequent remedial action by the federal government and the state.
The mining, leach pad, and waste disposal areas - the focus of the clean-up effort - were all specifically excluded from Bechtel's scope of services at Summitville.
At no time did Bechtel ever own or operate any part of the Summitville mine project. The January 3 article in the Denver Post about the state attorney general's lawsuit is flatly wrong in reporting that Bechtel operated the crushing and cyanide systems at Summitville.
To the contrary, Bechtel's services were completed and its people left the site shortly after mining operations started in mid-1986.
In 1996, both the federal and Colorado governments brought a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Denver alleging that Robert Friedland and his companies, Galactic and SCMCI, along with others, were liable for cleaning up the Summitville site.
Even after Friedland alleged that Bechtel was partially responsible and brought it into the suit, neither the United States nor Colorado sought to add Bechtel as a defendant.
A ruling by the Court in that suit dismissed Friedland's claim that Bechtel was somehow an "owner" of the facility. Friedland has just agreed to pay some $28 million to settle the claims against him and his companies, Galactic and SCMCI.
Friedland's remaining claim that Bechtel was an "operator" of the facility is the subject of a pending motion before the federal court to dismiss.
"The bottom line," Butler concludes, "is that--as has been found by extensive, indeed exhaustive, federal and state investigations--we're not in any way responsible for what went wrong at the mine site. We therefore intend to vigorously defend ourselves in this case."
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