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U.S. Government Announces $1.1 Billion for Henderson Perchlorate Clean Up

Release Date: 04/03/2014
Contact Information: Margot Perez-Sullivan, (415) 947-4149, perezsullivan.margot@epa.gov

SAN FRANCISCO – A settlement announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice secured $1.1 billion in funds to cleanup a former chemical manufacturing site in Henderson, Nev.

The Henderson site is 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.

“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,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the EPA Pacific Southwest.

“This is a monumental development for Nevada. The hard work of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection to not only direct the very successful perchlorate removal project, but also to pursue this significant settlement, is a huge win for southern Nevada and the more than 30 million people that rely on the Colorado River as their source of drinking water,” said Governor Brian Sandoval. “I also want to acknowledge the tremendous assistance we have received from Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto and her staff, as well as the cooperation of the Department of Justice and US EPA Region 9.”

"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,” said Leo Drozdoff, Director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “To date more than 4,000 tons of perchlorate have been removed from both soil and groundwater. The state, through its Division of Environmental Protection, will continue these efforts and continue to pursue more aggressive strategies wherever possible."

“With this settlement, we mark an end to a long battle to ensure Nevada has sufficient financial support to continue the remediation and long term protection of vital southern Nevada water resources,” said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. “Our office was pleased to provide strategic legal support to this collaborative effort to protect Nevada’s environment.”

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.

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