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ConocoPhillips settles contamination lawsuit with OKC homeowners

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The entrance to Clifford Farms neighborhood at Clifford Farms Road and NW 178 in Oklahoma City. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]
The entrance to Clifford Farms neighborhood at Clifford Farms Road and NW 178 in Oklahoma City. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman]

A lawsuit alleging water contamination in northwest Oklahoma City has reached a settlement between a neighborhood of homeowners and ConocoPhillips.

The energy corporation struck a confidential agreement Friday with residents of more than 30 houses in the Clifford Farms subdivision who said the West Edmond Oil Field polluted the soil and water supply at their homes.

The lawsuit, filed in Oklahoma City federal court, alleged the company failed to adequately dispose of saltwater runoff from the nearby oil field decades before the neighborhood’s construction.

The West Edmond Oil Field was among the most significant oil operations in Oklahoma’s history, producing millions of barrels of oil a year through the 1940s, according to the state historical society.

The homeowners argued ConocoPhillips allowed saltwater, brine and other substances from the oil field to flow into the land and groundwater beneath the future neighborhood site east of North May Avenue and directly south of NW 178.

The plaintiffs said the neighborhood’s drinking water contained more chloride than the maximum amount recommended in Environmental Protection Agency standards. The lawsuit also states the soil around the homes is too polluted to grow trees, flowers or other landscaping.

“(The) plaintiffs own and reside at (their) property for the purpose of enjoying the unique character of their homes,” the lawsuit states. “In order to enjoy the unique character of their homes, plaintiffs require reasonable access to clean water and soil."

Attorney Corey Neller said the neighborhood had no access to city of Oklahoma City water when the lawsuit was filed in 2016. The city utilities department confirmed the neighborhood originally depended on its own groundwater for service, but it is now connected to the city’s sewer and tapwater system. All of the homes have Edmond postal addresses but are contained within the boundaries of Oklahoma City.

The plaintiffs argued ConocoPhillips failed to give any warning of possible contamination in the area from the oil field. The homeowners argued none of them knew of the poor water and soil quality before they built or purchased their houses, according to the lawsuit.

A ConocoPhillips spokesman said the company “will not admit liability or responsibility” to the allegations in the case as a condition of the settlement. The lawsuit accused the company of causing damage to real property, trespass, negligence and unjust enrichment.

Nuria Martinez-Keel

Nuria Martinez-Keel joined The Oklahoman in 2019. She found a home at the newspaper while interning in summer 2016 and 2017. Nuria returned to The Oklahoman for a third time after working a year and a half at the Sedalia Democrat in Sedalia,... Read more ›

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