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Greg Webb
Greg Webb
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Nuclear Plant Contractors Ordered To Pay Damages

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Dow Chemical Co. and Rockwell International Corp., two companies that were contractors at the now defunct Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, have been ordered to pay $925 million to residents who claimed plutonium contamination from the facility has endangered their health and devalued their property. The lawsuit, filed by a group of homeowners, affects up to 13,000 people who owned land close to the former plant when it shut down in 1989 due to safety violations. It claimed the companies purposely mishandled radioactive waste and then proceeded to cover it up. Violations documented by state and federal officials included the outdoor storage of barrels of waste oil and solvents that were contaminated with plutonium. State health officials believe some of these barrels leaked and contaminated the surrounding soil, which later blew downwind.

Judge John L. Kane ordered Dow to pay $653 million and Rockwell to pay $508 million in compensatory damages. However, he capped the amount to be collected at $725 million. Rockwell and Dow were also instructed to pay exemplary damages of $111 million and $89 million, respectively. Dow has denied any wrongdoing and is seeking an appeal, while Rockwell, which has been partly purchased by Boeing Co., said it had no liability for the site. Judge Kane ordered Boeing responsible for Rockwell’s portion of the judgment. Both companies’ spokesmen have claimed the Department of Energy has agreed to be responsible for any judgment costs or settlements. So far, the federal government has spent $7 billion dollars to clean up the area and turn it into a wildlife refuge. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-rocky-flats-lawsuit,1,3366946.story