Trial proceedings resumed Tuesday between petroleum giant Anadarko and Tronox, Inc. There was brief hope of a settlement when the trial was halted last week while the two parties tried to hammer out an agreement. Those hopes were dashed, however, when they failed to come to a settlement both sides were satisfied with.
Tronox, a producer of titanium ore and titanium dioxide used in paints, sealants and plastics, is a spin-off of Kerr-McGee Corp., now owned by Anadarko. The lawsuit alleges that the creation of Tronox in 2005, which later declared bankruptcy in 2009, was fraudulent from the start because it left the new company with billions of dollars in environmental cleanup responsibilities while Anadarko then bought Kerr-McGee Corp.
According to a Reuters report, Tronox is seeking $25 billion in assets and damages from Anadarko – and they're not alone. Joining Tronox in the suit are the U.S. Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that the creation of Tronox defrauded the EPA out of money for environmental remediation solutions needed at numerous sites nationwide.
"All relevant parties believed that both businesses were healthy," lawyers for Anadarko wrote in papers filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan.
Lawsuits over responsibility for water and soil remediation costs are far from uncommon these days. Complicating matters is that many of the entities allegedly responsible for polluting the sites in question have been absorbed into larger corporations over the years.
In the case of the lawsuit brought against Anadarko, the damages sought by the U.S. and Tronox are directly related to cleanup efforts at 2,772 sites, according to a Bloomberg article. Local governments and communities expect remediation solutions to be deployed as quickly as possible to protect the public health, but drawn out court battles over financial responsibility can bring that process to a grinding halt.