FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Kim Stuart, 303-739-7008, for Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer
Cathleen Johnson, 303-655-2061, for Brighton
Mayor Jan Pawlowski
Sue Cobb, 720-865-9016, for Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
Metro-Area Mayors Urge Quick Settlement on Rocky Mountain Arsenal Compensation
Mayors from three metro Denver
communities today strongly urged Shell Oil Co
. to quickly finalize settlement negotiations with the State of Colorado
regarding compensation for natural resource damage at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal so that restoration efforts may begin.
The action follows the release late last month of a State report detailing environmental damage at the Arsenal. That report, the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Plan
, (NRDA), describes significant harm to environmental resources on and off the Arsenal site, most notably contaminated groundwater and injured wildlife and habitat. The assessment plan was issued Oct. 29 by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) Executive Director Jim Martin. The plan is available online at www.cdphe.state.co.us/hm/rmaplan.htm
Calling the State’s report a “wake-up call to Shell Oil,” Aurora Mayor Ed Tauer, Brighton Mayor Jan Pawlowski and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said the report “could not be more clear that the natural resource damage in and around the Arsenal is substantial. We are calling on Shell to come to the table in earnest so that agreement on damages and compensation can be reached as soon as possible and restoration can begin,” the mayors added. “Oil company profits being what they are these days, and in light of the findings in the State’s assessment plan, we believe Shell should be willing to move quickly to compensate our communities for the damage to wildlife and the environment that occurred as a result of the company’s activities at the Arsenal.”
All three mayors are from communities that surround the Arsenal site. All three also have signed on to an ambitious plan for restoring and preserving a greenway around the site. Funding for that effort is expected to come in part from the settlement between Shell and the State of Colorado.
From 1942 through the 1970s, the federal government used the Arsenal to produce and later demilitarize chemical weapons such as mustard agent and nerve gas. Shell Oil used the property from 1952 to 1982 to produce various pesticides. Under federal Superfund law, Shell and the Army are required to clean up the contamination and pay for natural resource damages. Cleanup has been ongoing for many years and is scheduled to be completed in 2010. State officials have been negotiating with Shell Oil and the federal government for several months to reach agreement on natural resource damages and related compensation to the State.
State officials have said any recoveries gained through a settlement would be used to replace, restore or acquire natural resources through initiatives such as the Northeast Greenway Corridor project announced in 2004. That project will create a 150-mile network of greenways, trails, and open spaces surrounding the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and extending from Denver to Brighton and Commerce City to Aurora.
When completed, the Greenway will be one of the most expansive urban recreational trail and riparian corridor networks in the country. The project will preserve and restore a system of stream and river corridors, riparian ecosystems, wildlife movement routes, and recreational trails in the state’s fastest growing region.