Boulder and Xcel Energy have settled a lawsuit filed by the City of Boulder earlier this summer involving toxic chemical contamination at the 13th Street Plaza. From 1902 to 1952, the property surrounding what is now the 13th Street Plaza was owned by the Federal Gas Co., which operated a coal gasification plant that produced fuel for heaters and lanterns. That plant was torn down in the early ‘60s as the country developed new sources of energy, and the land was mainly used for parking until Boulder started developing the property in 1995. Monitoring wells installed on the property in 2010 have since revealed elevated levels of benzene and naphthalene, both of which are common byproducts of coal gasification. Boulder alleged that Xcel knew of potential hazards on the site for decades but failed to disclose that information.

Benzene is a known carcinogen, which has the potential to damage the immune system and stop the production of red blood cells, leading to anemia. Naphthalene exposure can also cause anemia and damage to the liver, and can cause neurological damage in infants.

Boulder has estimated that the current and future costs related to the necessary cleanup will total approximately $5 million. While the $3.6 million settlement falls short of that total, the city estimated that litigation costs could have been as high as $1 million were the case to proceed all the way to trial.

If you would like more information, you can contact Grant Cofer, a lawyer in our firm’s Toxic Torts Section. Grant can be reached at 800-898-2034 or by email at

Source: Daily Camera – Boulder News

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