BNSF vs. Mining Companies
After years of hauling lead ore concentrate for various mining companies, BNSF Railway was required to clean up various rail yards and a right-of-way in eastern Missouri. BNSF brought a cost-recovery action against a number of mining companies to recover the cost of investigation and remediation at their facilities.
Data from investigations were reviewed to determine the likely source of the contamination. The sites were visited and evaluated for the adequacy of the cleanups. Remediation efforts were evaluated, including the cost and necessity of the actions that were taken. The mining companies had alleged many other potential anthropogenic sources of lead; these potential sources of contamination were evaluated to determine if they contributed to the contamination that was remediated.
The review of site information made it clear that leaking railcars were the source of the contamination at both the rail yards and the right-of-way. The remediation efforts were well documented, and the work was necessary for remediation. The other potential sources were evaluated and strong arguments were developed showing that these sources represented negligible sources, if at all. Based on these evaluations and the strength of the arguments concerning other sources, the mining companies settled the lawsuit for a substantial amount of money to pay for the cost of cleanup.