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Army, Shell Plan $1-Billion Waste Mop-Up

February 01, 1988|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Army and Shell Oil Co. are to pay up to $1 billion to mop up chemical weapons waste and other dangerous substances at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver in what will be the most costly hazardous waste cleanup in history, the Justice Department said today.

The agreement comes in a proposed consent decree calling for the cleanup by the year 2000 of a 27-square-mile Army-owned tract just north of Denver. The decree becomes final after a 45-day public comment period.

The decree filed in U.S. District Court in Denver would settle a lawsuit the government filed four years ago against Shell.

Shell produced and handled pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals on the property, which was leased from the Army. In 1985, Shell admitted it had produced some contamination at the arsenal.

At the same time, the Army admitted that it had disposed at the site wastes from chemical weapons production, mostly salts, including arsenic and mercury compounds.

Current rough estimates for the cleanup range from $750 million to $1 billion, the Justice Department said.

Under the decree, the Army and Shell will split costs 50-50 for the first $500 million. For any amount from $500 million to $700 million, the Army will pay 65% and Shell 35%. The Army will pay 80% of the costs for any amount in excess of $700 million.

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