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Friday, May 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Florida Contamination to Cost Lockheed $3M More

(CN) - Lockheed Martin should pay $3 million for breaching an environmental agreement stemming from a spill at its beryllium plant in Florida, a jury found.

After learning that its site in Tallevast, Fla., 38 miles south of Tampa, had been contaminated, Lockheed Martin told Manatee County and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in January 2000 that the spill had affected adjacent properties and communities.

Florida required the multibillion-defense contractor to investigate the contamination and submit a cleanup plan, but it was another three years before residents discovered the chemical spill.

Local environmental officials found that the groundwater contained several "chemicals of concern," including beryllium, chromium, and other harmful compounds and metals, in concentrations exceeding state guidelines.

The contamination extended for more than 200 acres in a town of 1.5 square miles.

Lockheed Martin entered a consent order that required it to pay $25,000 per year for technical consulting costs incurred by Family Oriented Community United Strong (Focus), a Florida community organization that owned property affected by the spill.

After Lockheed Martin's groundwater treatment system failed in August 2008, causing a large spill of contaminated water, the company signed a new agreement, which required it to make semiannual payments to Focus for environmental consulting, health and safety monitoring, and community activities related to the surrounding contamination. The agreement became effective July 1, 2009, and was to continue until Florida issued a "no further action" order on the site.

Claiming that Lockheed Martin had paid only the first two payments due under the agreement, Focus sued for breach of contract in early 2011.

A jury earlier this month ordered Lockheed Martin to pay Focus $3 million in economic losses, covering $1.725 million in past economic loss and $1.275 million in future economic loss.

Lockheed Martin, headquartered in Bethesda, Md., specializes in aeronautics, electronic systems, information systems and space systems. It employs 123,000 people worldwide.

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