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Suncor To Pay $1.9M To Settle Sand Creek Oil Spill Lawsuit

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An image of the cleanup effort in Sand Creek (credit: CBS)

An image of the cleanup effort in Sand Creek (credit: CBS)

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (AP) – Suncor oil refinery operators have agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit by federal and state authorities over an oil spill that contaminated Sand Creek and the South Platte River.

Before the agreement can become official, a consent decree filed in U.S. District Court requires court approval after at least 30 days for public notice and comment, the Denver Post reported Tuesday.

The civil lawsuit was filed by Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and U.S. Department of Justice attorneys against Suncor after a broken underground pipe leaked beneath storage tanks in 2011.

The lawsuit alleged that oil reached groundwater under the refinery, threatening the Sand Creek and the South Platte. At least 48 migratory birds died as a result.

Suncor Vice President John Gallagher signed the settlement agreement Thursday, along with Suthers, Department of Natural Resources Deputy Director Bob Randall, and Martha Rudolph, program director for the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment.

Health officials are requiring Suncor to develop a groundwater monitoring plan and map the plume on off-site property. It also must submit plans for reducing refinery-related contamination and managing contaminated groundwater pumped out of the construction area.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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