U.S. reaches $5.15 billion environmental settlement

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government on Thursday
reached a $5.15 billion settlement with Anadarko Petroleum Corp., 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 — $4.4 billion — will pay for
environmental cleanup and be used to settle claims stemming from the
legacy contamination.
The settlement resolves a legal battle over Tronox Inc., a spinoff of Kerr-McGee Corp., a company
Anadarko acquired in 2006.
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
The company, rather than pay for the environmental
mess it created, decided to shift the liabilities between 2002 and 2006
into Tronox, the Justuce Department said, while Kerr-McGee kept its
valuable oil and gas assets.
"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.
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.
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, N.J., contaminated
with thorium. About $1 billion will be directed to the Navajo Nation to
address radioactive waste left behind by the region’s abandoned uranium
The U.S. initially sought $25 billion to clean up decades
of contamination at dozens of sites. A U.S. bankruptcy judge in New York
in December found Kerr-McGee had improperly shifted its environmental
liabilities to Tronox and should pay between $5.15 billion and $14.2
billion, plus attorney’s fees. Cole said at a news conference Thursday
that the government decided that the $5.15 billion amount was more than
enough to cover the damages.
"It provides us with recovery now as opposed to years and years down the road," he said.
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 percent, to $99.43.
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