$1.1B cleanup underway for largest U.S. perchlorate groundwater plume

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 3, 2014 -- Today, a settlement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice has secured $1.1 billion in funds to clean up a former chemical manufacturing site in Henderson, Nev. -- the largest perchlorate groundwater plume in the country.

The plume has contaminated Lake Mead, which feeds into the Colorado River -- a major source of drinking water in the Southwest. Perchlorate can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones, which are needed for prenatal and postnatal growth and development, as well as for normal metabolism and mental function in adults.

The settlement requires Anadarko and Kerr McGee to pay a total of $5.15 billion to resolve fraudulent conveyance claims based on allegations that the defendants sought to evade their liability for environmental contamination at toxic sites around the country. Of this total, approximately $4.4 billion will be used for environmental cleanup. This is the largest amount of money ever awarded in a bankruptcy-related settlement for environmental cleanup.

Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the EPA Pacific Southwest, said, "This historic $1.1-billion settlement will result in cleaning up the nation's largest perchlorate plume and ensuring that 15 million people throughout the West will have access to safe drinking water."

According to Leo Drozdoff, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, more than 4,000 tons of perchlorate have been removed from both soil and groundwater to date. "This settlement is the culmination of years of hard work by many people and it means that Nevada will have the necessary financial resources to continue the perchlorate removal efforts vital to southern Nevada," he said.

See also: "Perchlorate remediation system treats groundwater at NV industrial site"

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