Hanson to pay pounds 168m to end US site contamination row

HANSON, the building materials group, yesterday agreed to pay pounds 168m to cap its environmental liabilities in a long-running dispute with the US authorities dating back to its days as a division of Lord Hanson's conglomerate.

The company, formed from the break-up of the conglomerate last February, will pay the sum as a one-off premium to two insurers which will guarantee up to pounds 488m to cover Hanson's clean-up costs at over 100 contaminated sites in the US.

The deal puts an end to a long-running saga which has cast a cloud of uncertainty over the company's finances for the past seven years. The building materials producer inherited the sites when it bought the housebuilder Beazer in 1991, when Hanson was still part of the huge group headed by Lord Hanson.

As part of the pounds 350m deal, Hanson agreed to take on all liabilities arising from the contamination of land by Koppers, a chemical company then owned by Beazer. The firm had been prosecuted by the US Environmental Agency (EPA) for leaking dangerous chemicals on 119 sites in the US.

Under yesterday's deal with the reinsurers Centre Solutions - part of the Swiss giant Zurich - and Swiss Re, Hanson will pay the first $100m (pounds 61m) of the clean-up costs, with the insurers covering the rest of the liability up to pounds 488m. Hanson said it was confident that the cover, which has an unlimited timescale, would be more than enough to pay for any liability arising from the dispute.

Provision for the clean-up costs was initially thought to be in excess of $2bn, but it was later scaled down to $675m (pounds 412m) to reflect a less confrontational attitude from the EPA.

Hanson said yesterday that after allowing for the pounds 168m premium and for minor ongoing costs for staff and legal fees, pounds 67m of the provision would no longer be required. The sum would be credited to the next set of accounts, together with a pounds 73m gain from the settlement of related legal disputes.

Andrew Dougal, the chief executive, said the deal would help the company on the completion of a number of acquisitions of US building materials companies. "They will not be old-Hanson flamboyant-style acquisitions, they will be small, focused buys," he said, adding that the company would be announcing details of a deal "very shortly".

The stock market signalled its approval of the insurance agreement by marking Hanson shares 13p higher to 336p in spite of a sharp fall in the overall index.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory