Kerr-McGee, Anadarko Pay $5.15 Billion in Record Settlement

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest had approved the settlement in November 2014, saying the case arose from a "series of transactions by the Kerr-McGee Corp. that resulted in the spin-off of Tronox, which Kerr-McGee left saddled with the massive environmental and tort liabilities it had accumulated over the course of decades of operating in the chemical, mining, and oil and gas industries, but without sufficient assets with which to address these liabilities."

EPA and the Justice Department on Jan. 23 announced a $5.15 billion payment has been made to the Anadarko Litigation Trust pursuant to a settlement reached with Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and Kerr McGee that has went into effect Jan. 21, which allows money to be disbursed for cleanups across the country. The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for DOJ's Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, and Assistant Administrator Cynthia Giles of EPA.

The settlement resolves fraudulent conveyance claims brought by the United States and the Anadarko Litigation Trust, the trust against Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and its affiliates, the defendants, in the bankruptcy of Tronox Inc. and its subsidiaries. The trust is expected to distribute more than $4.4 billion to fund environmental cleanups and for environmental claims. It is the largest payment for the cleanup of environmental contamination ever obtained in a lawsuit brought by the Department of Justice.

"This recovery will lead to cleanups across the country that will undo lasting damage to the environment, including contamination of tribal lands, by Kerr-McGee's businesses," Cruden explained. "This result emphatically demonstrates the Justice Department's commitment to environmental justice for all Americans, and it fulfills the department's promise to hold accountable those who pollute and those who try to foist their responsibility for cleanup on the American taxpayer."

"The Kerr-McGee Corporation spent decades despoiling our nation's natural resources, leaving a toxic legacy for communities across the nation, from Sidney, New York, to the Navajo nation," Bharara said. "Then, Kerr-McGee tried to escape the consequences of its misdeeds by transferring its most valuable assets to affiliates, leaving an insolvent shell behind, unable to pay its environmental liabilities. As today's historic payment shows, the government will not allow polluters to escape paying for the damage they inflict on our land, water, and people, and we will hold accountable those who attempt to shield themselves from responsibility behind improper corporate transactions."

U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest approved the settlement in November 2014, saying the case arose from a "series of transactions by the Kerr-McGee Corp. that resulted in the spin-off of Tronox, which Kerr-McGee left saddled with the massive environmental and tort liabilities it had accumulated over the course of decades of operating in the chemical, mining, and oil and gas industries, but without sufficient assets with which to address these liabilities."

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