|From:||Lenny Siegel <firstname.lastname@example.org>|
|Date:||Sun, 23 Jan 2000 19:08:03 -0800 (PST)|
|Subject:||[CPEO-MEF] Lockheed Settlement|
Government to Reimburse Lockheed for Burbank Cleanup Several years ago the reimbursement of military contractors for environmental cleanup costs was a hot issue. Activists organized around it in Sacramento. Congress held hearings. The question was: When should the Defense Department pay to clean up contamination at facilities owned or operated by its contractors? The issue resurfaced today (Friday, January 21, 2000) in Southern California. The Los Angeles Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/state/20000121/t000006623.html) reported, "The U.S. government agreed to reimburse Lockheed Martin for at least $155 million for toxic cleanup costs stemming from decades of manufacturing at the firm's Burbank defense facilities." The government will pay half of the $265 million Lockheed Martin has paid out since 1992 to clean up contaminated ground water and soil in Burbank" and it "also agreed to assume half of the estimated $110 million cost the Bethesda, Md.-based defense firm will incur over the next 20 years to clean water supplies under the city." I believe that the Pentagon is no longer reimbursing its contractors who merely claim cleanup costs as ordinary business expenses. That always seemed outrageous, since those companies could have avoided incurring the costs simply by operating their facilities properly. Firms that sell to the civilian market can't just hike their charges to cover such costs. They risk losing customers. In Burbank, however, Lockheed appears to have based its claim on two, more legitimate arguments. First, the government owned the Burbank plant from World War II through 1973. The government has a greater responsibility for contamination at its own bases, but the level of liability at government-owned contractor-operated (GOCO) facilities still depends both on the contractual arrangement and the degree to which the operator exercises control. Second, even after Lockheed regained ownership of the plant, "federal officials exercised daily control over operations at the site as Lockheed Martin employees worked on top-secret military projects including the Stealth fighter," according to the company's lawsuit. I don't know exactly who was in charge, but while it's easy to believe that the government required Lockheed to use cancer-causing solvents, I tend to doubt that it required the company to dump those chemicals on or into the ground. It's difficult, without full access to the facts, to judge whether the government's reimbursement of Lockheed Martin is simply its fair share, or it's another unjustified raid on the federal treasury. At least, a major cleanup operation was put into place before it was clear who would end up paying for it, and that's good news for local residents. It's possible, however, that the new settlement will make it more difficult for facility neighbors, many of whom are seeking damage payments for health problems and property losses resulting from the contamination, to recover those damages from Lockheed Martin. Lenny Siegel -- Lenny Siegel Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight c/o PSC, 222B View St., Mountain View, CA 94041 Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545 Fax: 650/968-1126 email@example.com http://www.cpeo.org You can find archived listserve messages on the CPEO website at http://www.cpeo.org/lists/index.html. If this email has been forwarded to you and you'd like to subscribe, please send a message to: firstname.lastname@example.org ________________________________________________________________________ Start an Email List For Free at Topica. http://www.topica.com/register
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