US: Former Colo. nuke plant contractors ordered to pay $925M

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DENVER (AP) - Two companies that worked as contractors with the
now-defunct Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant have been ordered to pay
$925 million to residents who claimed that contamination blown from the
facility endangered people's health and devalued their property.

federal judge on Monday ordered Dow Chemical Co. to pay $653 million
and the former Rockwell International Corp. $508 million in
compensatory damages, but capped the amount to be collected at $725

Judge John L. Kane also ordered Dow and Rockwell to pay exemplary damages of $111 million and $89 million, respectively.

lawsuit, filed by a group of homeowners, affects up to 13,000 people
who owned land near the former plant when it shut down in 1989 because
of safety violations.

The lawsuit claimed the companies intentionally mishandled radioactive waste and then tried to cover it up.

Chemical operated Rocky Flats for the Department of Energy from the
1950s until 1975. Rockwell ran it from 1975 until 1989, when the plant
closed. The plant made plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads.

Kane's judgment arrived more than two years after a jury returned a verdict in the trial, which ended in Feburary 2006.

the time, the federal jury decided the two contractors damaged land
around the plant through negligence that exposed thousands of property
owners to plutonium and increased their risk of health problems.

Co., which acquired parts of Rockwell in the 1990s, is responsible for
Rockwell's portion of the judgment, according Kane's order.

Messages left after business hours for Boeing and Dow were not immediately returned.

Kane stayed his judgment pending appeals.

documented by state and federal officials included the outdoor storing
of barrels of waste oil and solvents contaminated with plutonium. State
health officials have said some of those barrels leaked and
contaminated the surrounding soil, which later blew downwind.

The federal government has since spent $7 billion to clean up the site and turn it into a wildlife refuge.

AMP Section Name:Energy
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