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U.S. government reaches settlement in asbestos cleanup lawsuit

The federal government has reportedly reached a settlement with a residential development association in connection with the cleanup of asbestos left on the site by the government in the 1940s. Under the settlement, the government has agreed to pay $500,000 to the development, which will go to refund the costs of investigating and remedying the asbestos issue.

The asbestos lawsuit was filed by the owners association of the Sunriver community of central Oregon. The development was built on the site of Camp Abbott, a former training camp for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The camp buildings were demolished by the government in the 1940s, but the government failed to remove asbestos-laden material from a 22-acre section of the site.

Construction began on the development in 1968, but the asbestos was not discovered until 2002. At that time, the development spent considerable money to determine the extent of the asbestos contamination and the risk it posed to residents. Ultimately, the decision was made to build an aquatic and recreation center on the site, essentially putting a cap on the dangerous, contaminated soil.

If the development had not built the aquatic center, it would have been forced to spend more than $3 million to clean up the asbestos.

Although this dispute ended with a positive resolution, it remains to be seen whether the asbestos that was negligently left on the development site caused any lasting harm to anyone who lived or worked on the site. If so, those people could have a valid claim against the government for failing to properly remove and dispose of the asbestos-laden materials.

Source: Portland Business Journal, "U.S. to pay $500K to settle Sunriver asbestos claims," Erik Siemers, July 23, 2012

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