Construction project allegedly leaks harmful contaminants

New construction projects and infrastructure redevelopment often support growth in existing communities. In Louisiana and across the southern United States, construction projects can create new jobs, bring in new businesses, and revitalize struggling local economies. Such projects can also bring challenges to the communities adjacent to the development sites.

A Louisiana-based corporation is being sued for its involvement in the contamination of an International Boundary and Water Commission site. Cemex Inc., which is an in-state business, has been accused by ASARCO, the American Smelting and Refining Company, of leaking arsenic and lead into an IBWC site. ASARCO recently settled a federal lawsuit for which it agreed to pay $19 million to clean up the site and now the organization seeks financial payment from Cemex Inc. for the clean-up of contaminants that ASARCO claims it did not produce.

Cemex Inc. has responded to ASARCO’s accusations and claims that it never disposed of contaminants at the subject IBWC site and that it is not responsible for the identified presences lead and arsenic. A federal court is scheduled to hear both sides of the dispute in June of this year.

Construction litigation such as this highlights the challenges that developers and other construction firms may face when they engage in business transactions. In this case, ASARCO is seeking reimbursement from Cemex Inc. for costs it has incurred in cleaning up contaminants that it claims it did not create. This type of payment can be considered an indemnification, which involves receiving compensation for incurred damages. Indemnification is an appropriate remedy in some construction disputes and may become part of a legal damages strategy during litigation.

Source: El Paso Times, “Asarco: Cemex caused pollution,” Diana Washington Valdez, April 25, 2013