Back in April, Texas oil company Anadarko Petroleum Corp. reached a settlement with Tronox Inc., a company which spun off Kerr-McGee Corp. in 2005 before the latter was acquired by Anadarko in 2006. The settlement concerned billions of dollars connected to environmental cleanup and public health issues which originated from before the Anadarko acquisition.
After its spin-off, Tronox filed for bankruptcy and its creditors—including the U.S. Department of Justice—sued Kerr-McGee and Anadarko over massive environmental liabilities. A total of $25 billion was sought in order to fund the cleanup of over 2,000 contaminated sites nationwide. The case got particularly messy—no pun intended—when Tronox creditors sought to show that the company’s spinoff was a fraudulent transfer, which is illegal under bankruptcy law.
The April settlement Anadarko reached with Tronix was approved in June by the judge handling the Tronix bankruptcy. That was a controversial development as some claimed Anadarko was not held to its full burden of accountability for Kerr-McGee’s contribution to toxic spills. But earlier this month, in the most recent development, that settlement agreement received final approval, bringing the case a closer to completion.
As we have mentioned in earlier posts on this case, companies who contribute to toxic spills and environmental contamination can and should be held accountable to the public for personal injury and property damage, as well as for failure to comply with federal regulations. In this case, billions of dollars were at stake with the U.S. Department of Justice, but toxic spill cases don’t have to be that big to be worthwhile. Those who feel they may have been harmed by a toxic spill situation should contact an experienced environmental law attorney.
Sources: Business Insider, “Anadarko’s $5.15 bln cleanup agreement clears first court hurdle,” Nick Brown, May 28, 2014.
Wall Street Journal, “Anadarko Settles Tronox Lawsuit for $5.15 Billion,” Patrick Fitzgerald, Daniel Gilbert and Andrew Grossman, April 3, 2014.