Anadarko Petroleum Group and some of its subsidiaries will pay $4.4 billion for environmental cleanup at several contaminated sites around the U.S. under a settlement reached with the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

Announced on April 3, the total $5.15- billion settlement is the largest environmental enforcement recovery in the Justice Dept.'s history, the agency said. It will settle outstanding claims against the company and pay for the cleanup.

A bankruptcy court in December found that the Kerr-McGee Corp., a subsidiary of Anadarko, moved its profitable oil-and-gas business to a second company and spun off its business with liabilities associated with environmental contamination into another company, Tronox, as a way to evade liability for environmental cleanup at several contaminated sites.

Up until the mid- to late 1990s, the original Kerr-McGee operated numerous businesses, which included mining uranium and processing radioactive thorium, treating wood with creosote and manufacturing perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel. These operations left a legacy of contamination across the U.S., including radioactive uranium waste across the Navajo Nation; radioactive thorium in Chicago and West Chicago; creosote waste in the Northeast, the Midwest and the South; and perchlorate waste in Nevada.

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, in an April 3 news conference said, "The company tried to keep its rewards and shed its responsibilities by playing a corporate shell game, putting its profitable oil-and-gas business in a new entity and leaving behind a bankrupt shell holding the environmental liabilities of the defunct, polluting lines of business."

Anadarko CEO Al Walker said, "This settlement agreement … eliminates the uncertainty this dispute has created."