BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a national $5.15 billion environmental bankruptcy settlement on Thursday with an oil company and its affiliate to resolve environmental cleanup claims.
Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and its affiliate, Kerr-McGee, agreed to pay $5.15 billion to resolve claims stemming from the 2009 bankruptcy of a former affiliate, Tronox. Massachusetts will receive more than $73 million to clean up a contaminated site in Hanover known as the National Fireworks Site. The site is being cleaned up under the state's Superfund Law.
"This is a historic settlement that will greatly benefit the environment in Massachusetts by ensuring that funds are available to clean-up the dangerous, decades-old mercury contamination at the National Fireworks Site," Coakley said. "This makes clear that companies cannot escape their environmental responsibilities and walk away with the profits. We applaud the efforts of the litigation trust and United States team in preventing the fraudulent transactions of Kerr-McGee and its parent company, Anadarko, from allowing them to escape their liability."
The Hanover site became polluted as a result of the munitions operations that occurred there in the decades following World War I. Soils, water bodies and sediments in the area are contaminated with high levels of lead, mercury and other heavy metals.
Tronox filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2009 and later brought a lawsuit against Anadarko. Tronox alleged Anadarko's Kerr-McGee unit's spin-off of Tronox was unlawful because it vested with hundreds of millions of dollars in environmental liability and insufficient assets. In a November 2010 settlement, Tronox transferred its rights to proceeds from the fraudulent conveyance lawsuit against Anadarko to the governmental entities to which it has environmental loyalty.
Tronox paid $270 million in the 2010 agreement, close to $950,000 of which went to the state of Massachusetts to resolve environmental liabilities. The settlement on Thursday is in addition to what the federal and state governments received in 2010.