Rocky Flats Settlement

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A federal jury is recommending that Dow Chemical Company and the former Rockwell International Corporation pay almost 554 million dollars to thousands of property owners near the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant.

Louise Roselle, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs, says the final award will likely be less because of limits in state and federal law, but could still reach 350 (m) million dollars after the judge reviews the verdict.

The class-action lawsuit claimed the plant contaminated neighboring land, driving down property values for about 13-thousand owners.

The now-defunct site northwest of Denver made plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads during the Cold War.

Rockwell, now known as Rockwell Automation, and Dow Chemical operated the plant at separate times under contract with the federal government.

The lawsuit claimed they intentionally mishandled radioactive waste and then tried to cover it up.

Defense attorney David Bernick says claims of a cover-up were wrongheaded and that contamination offsite was minuscule and didn't harm property values.

Attorneys have said the government would cover the damages and the companies' legal bills because they were operating as contractors.