PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) ConocoPhillips has tentatively agreed to pay $70 million to as many as 7,000 Florida Panhandle property owners who sued over pollution from the former site of a fertilizer plant.
The agreement, which still needs a judge’s approval, would settle two lawsuits that contend that underground contamination has reduced property values and may have caused health problems.
Under the proposal, $65 million would be divided in varying amounts among up to 7,000 people who own or once owned about 3,000 homes and other properties in Pensacola, plaintiffs’ attorney Mike Papantonio said Monday.
It also would allocate $3.6 million to medically monitor about 3,000 residents and $750,000 for administering the settlement.
A spokeswoman for Houston-based ConocoPhillips, Kristi DesJarlais, confirmed the preliminary settlement but would not discuss the details.
Seven law firms representing the residents would receive as much as $25 million apart from the settlement, plus $2.9 million in costs.
The lawsuits initially sought $500 million for 11,000 property owners, but a judge cut the number to 3,000 residents.
The fertilizer plant dates to 1889. Conoco, which later merged with Phillips Petroleum to form ConocoPhillips, bought it in 1963. The plant was sold nine years later to another company, which closed it in 1975.
In 1989, the Environmental Protection Agency designated the spot a Superfund site, contaminated with fluoride, lead and other toxins. A cleanup of the contaminated soil was completed in 1997.