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Boeing and Dow Chemical fined 926 million dollars

Latest update : 2008-06-03

After a 15-year legal battle, Boeing and Dow Chemical have been condemned by a Colorado court to pay a 926 million fine over property damages caused by contamination from a nuclear weapons plant.

A Denver, Colorado court Tuesday fined Dow Chemical Co. and Boeing Co. a combined 926 million dollars over property damages caused by contamination from a nuclear weapons plant.

The court set the fines after a jury found Dow and Rockwell International Corp, which Boeing bought parts of, responsible for damages claimed by thousands of property owners near the Rocky Flats (Colorado) Nuclear Weapons Plant in a trial that concluded in February 2006.

In the class action suit involving some 12,000 plaintiffs and spanning more than 15 years, Dow and Rockwell were accused of allowing plutonium from the Rocky Flats plant to contaminate property in the area, especially residential areas downwind from it, endangering the residents' health and slashing their property values.

The court Tuesday fined Dow 653.3 million dollars et Boeing 508.1 million in compensatory damages, but then set a cap of 725.9 million dollars for both for compensating the plaintiffs, according to the ruling.

It also fined Dow 110.8 million dollars and Boeing 89.4 million in exemplary damages.

"Our clients are very pleased to have this judgement entered, this has been a long and very difficult process. They're very pleased to have their claims recognized and are looking forward to the conclusion of this very long and difficult process," Steven Kelly, attorney for plaintiffs, told AFP.

Located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) northwest of Denver, the Rocky Flats plant was operated by Dow from 1953 to 1975, and then by defense contractor Rockwell until its closing in 1994; it supplied the plutonium triggers for the US nuclear bomb arsenal.

Fires and equipment leaks during that period were the sources of significant releases of plutonium and other radioactive substances. In 1989 the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Environmental Protection Agency raided the plant over alleged environmental crimes, ultimately leading to its shutdown.

In the trial Boeing was held liable for Rockwell's role in the case after it took over defense and space-related units of the company in the 1990s.

Date created : 2008-06-03

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