Halliburton Sued Over Okla. War Missile Casing Site

November 7, 2011

Halliburton Co faces lawsuits over groundwater pollution near a now-closed facility in Oklahoma that cleaned missile casings for the U.S. Defense Department during the Cold War, the company said Friday.

Halliburton, which now specializes in oilfield services, said one of its units cleaned solid fuel from missile casings between 1965 and 1991 at a semi-rural facility on the north side of Duncan, Oklahoma. It was closed in the mid-1990s.

A component of the fuel was ammonium perchlorate, a salt that is highly soluble in water. Halliburton said it had been discovered in the soil and groundwater on its site and in certain residential water wells near the property.

The company said it was determining the extent of that contamination and that it had arranged to supply residents with bottled water and, if needed, a temporary water supply system.

Halliburton said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it had accrued an estimated liability relating to third-party property damage and its response efforts, but it did not disclose the amount.

A Halliburton spokeswoman was not immediately available to comment.

The lawsuits, filed in Oklahoma state and federal courts starting late last month, claim the plaintiffs have suffered health problems such as hypothyroidism, which is associated with exposure to perchlorate over time, the company said.

According to Halliburton, the lawsuits claim it knew about the releases into groundwater of ammonium perchlorate and, in a federal lawsuit, nuclear or radioactive waste as well, and that Halliburton did not take corrective actions.

But after conducting soil and groundwater sampling along with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, Halliburton said it only found nuclear or radioactive material in soil in a discrete area on the Duncan site, and that it was not present in groundwater.

“The radiological impacts from this discrete area are not believed to present any health risk for off-site exposure,” Halliburton said in the filing.

The lawsuits seek damages and the establishment of a fund for future medical monitoring, and Halliburton said it planned to “vigorously defend” itself against them.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco)

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