$5bn settlement after decades of pollution

2014-04-04 11:13
Navajo miners work at the Kerr McGee uranium mine at Cove, Arizona on the Navajo reservation in Arizona in 1953. (AP)

Navajo miners work at the Kerr McGee uranium mine at Cove, Arizona on the Navajo reservation in Arizona in 1953. (AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - The federal government on Thursday reached a $5.15bn settlement with Anadarko Petroleum, the largest ever for environmental contamination, to settle claims related to the cleanup of thousands of sites tainted with hazardous chemicals for decades.

The bulk of the money, $4.4bn will pay for the environmental cleanup and be used to settle claims stemming from the legacy of contamination.

The settlement revolves around a legal battle over Tronox, a spinoff of Kerr-McGee, a company Anadarko acquired in 2006.

The justice department said Kerr-McGee, founded in 1929, left behind a long legacy of environmental contamination: polluting Lake Mead in Nevada with rocket fuel, leaving behind radioactive waste piles throughout the territory of the Navajo Nation, and dumping carcinogenic creosote in communities throughout the East, Midwest and South at its wood-treating facilities.

The company, rather than pay for the environmental mess it created, decided to shift the liabilities between 2002 and 2006 into Tronox, the justice department said, while Kerr-McGee kept its valuable oil and gas assets.

Radioactive waste

"Kerr-McGee's businesses all over this country left significant, lasting environmental damage in their wake", deputy attorney general James Cole said. "It tried to shed its responsibility for this environmental damage and stick the United States with the huge cleanup bill."

The settlement releases Anadarko from all claims against Kerr-McGee.

"This settlement eliminates the uncertainty this dispute has created, and the proceeds will fund the remediation and cleanup of the legacy environmental liabilities", said Anadarko CEO Al Walker.

The settlement funds will be paid into a trust that covers cleanup of contaminated sites across 22 states and the Navajo Nation.

Among the sites targeted for cleanup under the settlement are a former chemical manufacturing site in Nevada that has led to contamination of Lake Mead and a Superfund property in Gloucester, New Jersey, contaminated with thorium.

About $1bn will be directed to the Navajo Nation to address radioactive waste left behind by the region's abandoned uranium mines.

The US initially sought $25bn to clean up decades of contamination at dozens of sites. A US bankruptcy judge in New York in December found Kerr-McGee had improperly shifted its environmental liabilities to Tronox and should pay between $5.15bn and $14.2bn, plus attorney's fees.

Cole said at a news conference on Thursday that the government decided that the $5.15bn amount enough to cover the damages.

"It provides us with recovery now as opposed to years and years down the road", he said.

Tronox said in a statement that the settlement means environmental cleanup can begin and that people harmed by the pollution can be compensated.

After the settlement's announcement, Anadarko's stock rose 15%, to $99.43.
Read more on:    us  |  environment  |  pollution

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.