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Lawsuit Over Gas Plume Under Qualcomm Stadium Settled

Photo caption: Workers clean up groundwater contamination under the parking lot of Qualcomm ...

Photo by Amita Sharma

Workers clean up groundwater contamination under the parking lot of Qualcomm Stadium on October 20, 2009.

Long-running litigation over a gas plume in the ground under Qualcomm Stadium has been settled, the City Attorney's office announced Friday.

As part of the settlement, Kinder Morgan, owner of a gasoline tank farm across Friars Road from the stadium in Mission Valley, will pay the city $20 million, according to a joint statement from the city and company. The firm also agreed to pay additional future costs that might be incurred by the city.

The settlement ends nine years of legal battles between the parties.

The dispute arose from releases into the ground of petroleum products dating as far back as the late 1980s and early 1990s, before Kinder Morgan purchased the terminal, which supplies most of the region's gas products.

Although the company didn't own the facility at the time of the earliest releases, it accepted the legal responsibility to perform remediation when it took ownership, according to the City Attorney's Office. The firm said it has spent over $75 million cleaning up the Qualcomm Stadium property to meet standards established by the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Last month, the board declared that Kinder Morgan has met the agency's standards.

"We particularly appreciate the substantial time and money which Kinder Morgan has put into the cleanup over the years and the company's continuing commitment to cover additional redevelopment costs should there be any due to historical releases," City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. "The city recognizes Kinder Morgan as an important past and future corporate partner in the city of San Diego and is pleased to put this behind us."

The City Council heard the issue in Tuesday's closed session meeting. It is expected to formally approve the deal in open session at a later date.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he was glad to get the lawsuit resolved "so we can move forward with future opportunities for Mission Valley."

The primary future option for developing the site is a joint research campus for San Diego State and UC San Diego that would include a new football stadium for the SDSU Aztecs.

With the Kinder Morgan settlement, the city has over the past year and a half reached agreement to end its three longest cases — the other two being a 20-year development dispute with businessman Roque de la Fuente II, and a 35- year legal battle with residents of the De Anza Cove Mobile Home Park at Mission Bay.

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