Unpacking the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history

BY Hari Sreenivasan  April 6, 2014 at 7:39 PM EDT

From New Jersey to the Navajo Nation, more than $5 billion has been designated to clean up contaminated areas following the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history.

The settlement announced Thursday stems from a legal battle over a company, Kerr-McGee, that the Justice Department said left behind a legacy of environmental grievances, including polluting Lake Mead in Nevada with rocket fuel.

Juliet Eilperin of the Washington Post joins NewsHour for a Google+ hangout to speak on the federal government’s settlement with Anadarko Petroleum. 

The funds will be used to clean up of dozens of sites across 22 states and the Navajo Nation, and will provide compensation for the more than 7,000 people living with issues stemming from the contamination.

Credit: Washington Post

This map illustrates the areas impacted by Kerr-McGee’s legacy. Credit: Washington Post

“This settlement agreement with the Litigation Trust and the U.S. Government eliminates the uncertainty this dispute has created, and the proceeds will fund the remediation and cleanup of the legacy environmental liabilities and tort claims,” Anadarko Chairman, President and CEO Al Walker said in a statement.

“Investor focus can now return to the tremendous value embedded in Anadarko’s asset base, allowing our peer-leading operational and exploration results to again become the basis for valuation. We are grateful to our stakeholders who have maintained their confidence and trust in our people and our assets.”

To learn more about the settlement, I spoke with Juliet Eilperin, who has been covering the story for the Washington Post.

According to Eilperin, the contamination left by Kerr-McGee was so serious that the Navajo Nation published a comic book for children warning of the dangers of drinking from or swimming in affected water sources.