Anadarko Petroleum Thursday agreed to pay $5.15 billion toresolve decades-old environmental claims in a settlement the US said woulddiscourage companies from engaging in corporate makeovers to avoid pollutionliability.The record environmental settlement covers dozens of claims against Kerr-McGee, anoil company Anadarko acquired in 2006. Prior to the takeover, Kerr-McGeerestructurings shifted its environmental liabilities into a separate chemical unitcalled Tronox.The US government and Tronox trustees launched the suit against Anadarko in 2009.Last December, US bankruptcy judge Allan Gropper ruled the Tronox reorganizationwas "fraudulent" and that Anadarko owed Tronox trustees as much as $14.5 billion.Tronox fell into bankruptcy in 2009 before emerging in 2011.The settlement is "the largest environmental enforcement recovery ever by theDepartment of Justice," the department said in a statement."If you are responsible for 85 years of poisoning the Earth, then you are responsible
for cleaning it up," said US Attorney Preet Bharara. "That's why this case wasbrought. And that's why the defendants are paying a record $5.15 billion -- to fundthat colossal cleanup and to make things right."Bharara said Kerr-McGee had played a "corporate shell game" to avoid responsiblity.Anadarko's $18 billion purchase of Kerr-McGee expanded the Texas company's oiland gas holdings,includingintheGulfofMexico,whereKerrMcGeehadlongoperated. But in earlier decades, Kerr-McGee also had major chemicals and nuclearoperations.Those non-oil assets, as well as the environmental liabilities, were spun off inTronox before Anadarko acquired Kerr-McGee."There can be no dispute that Kerr-McGee acted to free substantially all its assets --certainly its most valuable assets -- from 85 years of environmental and tortliabilities," Gropper had concluded in December.As a result, the "cleansed" Kerr McGee became "more attractive as a target of anacquisition," the judge wrote.John Hueston, an attorney with Iris & Manella who represents Tronox claimants, saidthe settlement will address a number of "environmental disaster sites" across thecountry.The payments will include $1.1 billion to clean up contamination at an industrialpark near Lake Mead in Nevada and $1 billion for the Navajo Nation to remediateradioactive contamination from Kerr-McGee's Cold War-era uranium mining.Other payments will go to clean up thorium contamination at a superfund siteinNewJersey, with additional funds going to clean sites in Texas, Mississippi, Georgiaand other sites.Hueston called the agreement "historic" and said the sum would be sufficient toremediate all sites. Holding out for a larger payment from Anadarko risked delayingthe cleanup, he added."It's an important precedent to deter companies from taking action like this in thefuture and at the same time provide a means of remedy in case theydo,"Huestonsaid.Anadarko said the agreement removed doubts that have depressed the value of itsstock.The settlement "eliminates the uncertainty this dispute has created, and theproceeds will fund the remediation and cleanup of the legacy environmentalliabilities and tort claims," said Anadarko chief executive Al Walker."Investor focus can now return to the tremendous value embedded in Anadarko'sasset base."Anadarko was a partner of BP's in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident in the Gulfof Mexico. It paid BP $4 billion in 2011 to resolve claims related to the accident.Anadarko said the settlement will be paid following US District Court approval,expected by the end of the third quarter. The company will cover the payment fromcash on hand and a $5 billion credit facility.Anadarko estimates a net tax benefit of $550 million in the upcoming quarter due tothe settlement.Anadarko shares jumped 14.4 percent to $98.96.