In an agreement announced Thursday, April 3, the massive energy company Anadarko Petroleum Corp said it will pay $5.15 billion in response to claims of property damage and health effects caused by environmental pollution. Much of this money will go toward cleaning up over 2,000 areas in the United States said to be damaged by decades of harmful exposure to numerous substances, including:
- Wood creosote
- Rocket fuel waste
- Nuclear fuel
This agreement marks the single largest bankruptcy settlement ever made in the United States regarding environmental waste. In fact, it is larger than the plea agreement made between BP and the Department of Justice after the infamous 2010 oil spill in the Gulf Coast. The decision awaits final approval from a judge and federal court, which will come following a 30-day period of open public comment.
Thursday's monumental agreement ends a decades-long legal clash with Tronox Inc., a component of the Kerr-McGee Corp, an energy and chemical company that was acquired by Anadarko in 2006. If approved, the settlement would end any further vulnerability regarding Kerr-McGee for Anadarko. The United States government along with 11 state governments, Native American tribes, and individuals were represented by a litigation trust that fought for compensation for sites damaged by environmental waste as well as claims for over 8,000 individuals who claimed that exposure to the company's harmful toxins caused cancer and other adverse health effects.
Despite the unprecedented amount of the settlement, Anadarko's share price jumped to $99.02 — a 14.5 percent increase. Industry analysts attribute this to a surge of confidence from investors, after the alleviation of decades of uncertainty regarding the future of the corporation. Some stated that the final settlement could have been much higher.
Of the $5.15 billion settlement, the Navajo Nation will receive approximately $1 billion in 5 years to deal with the radioactive contamination caused by uranium mining operations. An additional $1.1 billion will go to Nevada to address perchlorate pollution, and $1.1 billion more will be divided among over 20 other affected locations nationwide.