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San Diego Awarded $20M In Damages For Qualcomm Stadium Site Pollution


Texas energy firm Kinder Morgan, which operates a 26 million gallon tank farm near Qualcomm Stadium, has paid the City of San Diego $20M to settle a nine-year-old lawsuit over underground pollution of the 166-acre city-owned site in Mission Valley. The picture above shows Qualcomm Stadium in relation to Kinder Morgan's 66-acre petroleum tank farm in the upper left corner.

The California Regional Water Quality and Control Board in 1992 ordered an investigation and remediation of contamination at the Mission Valley Terminal, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Kinder Morgan purchased the tank farm in 1998 from Santa Fe Pacific Pipeline Partners and assumed responsibility for cleanup. The company claimed it had spent $75M addressing the contamination.

The city sued Kinder Morgan and its predecessor in 2007 for $250M, alleging leaking oil from the tank farm contaminated the property and damaged the city. The level of the suit’s damage claim was considered exaggerated by a federal judge, who ruled in favor of Kinder Morgan.

The city appealed the judge’s decision, which resulted in the $20M awarded the city on Friday. Half the settlement money is going to the city’s Public Utilities Department, which owns a large portion of the area north and south of Friars Road affected by oil releases; the other half is going into the city’s general fund.

The city is considering a plan to turn the site into a western campus for San Diego State University if voters approve a funding source to build a new Chargers Stadium in Downtown.

The plan calls for building student and faculty housing, research and academic space, a hotel, related retail and commercial space, and possibly a new, smaller stadium shared by SDSU, a Major League Soccer franchise and other community partners. Nearly 40 acres would be reserved as parkland.

The city would be required to donate the land to SDSU and possibly the University of California San Diego, which would share and oversee a master planned project. [SDUT]