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Chevron to Pay for Cleanup

Chevron Corp. must pay at least $2 million to compensate landowners for oil waste damage at an 11-acre, plot in Louisiana, a jury ruled yesterday.

The plaintiffs, Hazelwood Farms Inc. of Opelousas, had sought up to $80 million in compensation and punitive damages for pollution associated with oil production on land it has leased since 1926 to Gulf Oil Corp. -- which was bought by Chevron in 1984, according to the Associated Press.

Instead, Chevron was ordered to pay only for damages related to pollution left behind until 1957, when Gulf began to sublease the land to other smaller, independent oil companies.

"The jury verdict was fair and reasonable," said Chevron lawyer Stephen Carleton, who had suggested a sum closer to $800,000. "We had always said we would stand responsible for any damages attributable to Gulf during the time frame suggested."

Most of the companies that leased the land from Gulf or Chevron have since declared bankruptcy or are out of business, the report said.

Three of them -- International Petroleum and Exploration Inc., Liberty Oil and Gas Inc. and Meyers-Lasher Inc. -- agreed in separate, smaller settlements to clean up their portions of the damage.
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