* US top court rules for Shell, railroads on cleanup costs
* At issue California contaminated industrial site
WASHINGTON May 4 The U.S. Supreme Court ruled
on Monday for Shell Oil Co SHOI.PK and units of Burlington
Northern Santa Fe Corp BNI.N and Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N)
in a dispute over environmental cleanup costs at a contaminated
industrial site in Arvin, California.
Shell, an affiliate of Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L), and
the two railroads argued they should not be held liable for the
majority of the more than $8 million spent by the government on
cleanup costs at the abandoned farm chemical storage facility.
Voting 8-1, the justices overturned a ruling by a U.S.
appeals court that Shell and the railroads could be held liable
for almost the full cost of the cleanup even though their roles
in the soil and groundwater contamination had been relatively
The railroads said the owners of the chemical storage
company at the site had leased only a small parcel of their
land while Shell said it merely shipped chemicals to the
The Supreme Court ruled that Shell is not liable as an
arranger for the contamination at the facility and said Shell
took numerous steps to encourage its distributors to reduce the
likelihood of spills.
The high court also ruled that a federal judge had
reasonably apportioned the railroads' share of the cleanup
costs at just 9 percent.
The ruling was a defeat for the federal government.
(Editing by Maureen Bavdek)