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Shell Oil, Army to give Colorado $35 million for clean-up

By Chris Rizo | May 29, 2008

John Suthers

DENVER, Colo. (Legal Newsline)-Colorado will get $35 million to help clean up and restore a former chemical weapons manufacturing site on the outskirts of Denver, the attorney general announced Thursday.

Shell Oil Co. has agreed to provide $21 million in cash and land for clean up at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, where the Houston-based company made pesticides and other chemicals from 1952 until 1982, Attorney General John Suthers said at a state Capitol news conference with Gov. Bill Ritter.

"The settlement eliminates the need for the state to spend millions of additional dollars and more years litigating a case for an uncertain result and will allow for the protection of parcels of land around the arsenal before they are forever lost to development," Suthers said in remarks prepared for delivery provided to Legal Newsline.

As part of the settlement, Shell Oil and the United States government will pay the state $17.4 million in natural resources damages at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal-$10 million from Shell and $7.4 million from the federal government.

The U.S. Army manufactured chemical weapons at the 27-square-mile site northeast of Denver starting in 1942.

The proposed settlement, announced Thursday, still must be approved by a federal judge. A settlement would end Colorado's 25-year long lawsuit against Shell Oil and the Army for environmental damage.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal, deemed one of the most polluted areas in the nation, was designated a federal Superfund site in 1987 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The state filed suit in 1983 against Shell and the U.S. government.

"Manufacturing wastes from both the Army and Shell were transported through chemical sewers to on-site disposal basins which unfortunately, did not have adequate seals for their environmental containment," Suthers said.

"The result was significant soil, surface water, and groundwater contamination and considerable injury to wildlife due to chemical exposure," the attorney general added.

To date, the Army and Shell have spent a combined $2.1 billion in cleanup costs, Suthers said.

Shell Oil Co. president John Hofmeister said the company is happy with the settlement.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo by e-mail at

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)