Colorado’s quarter century-long legal tussle over groundwater pollution at Rocky Mountain Arsenal ended today with the announcement of a $35 million settlement.

Shell Oil and the U.S. Army — which produced all manner of nasty chemicals from 1942 until 1982 at the arsenal, northeast of downtown Denver — have agreed to pay the state $35 million in damages for polluting groundwater at the arsenal, state Attorney General John Suthers said today.

The amount is the largest environmental settlement in the state’s history, and it comes in addition to work the two organizations already are doing to clean up the groundwater and other pollution left over at the arsenal.

“The settlement was 25 years in the making, but we believe

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal is located neear 72nd and Quebec. (THE DENVER POST | JOHN PRIETO)

it was very much worth the wait,” said Gov. Bill Ritter at a news conference announcing the agreement.Money from the settlement will go to a variety of open-space projects. Part of the settlement will be paid with a land donation to Commerce City, which surrounds the arsenal on three sides. It will use the donated land as a gateway to a network of trails and greenbelts that link to the arsenal, known as the Northeast Greenway Corridor.

As the arsenal has been cleaned up, much of it has been turned into a wildlife refuge.

“The money is nice,” Commerce City Mayor Paul Natale said of the settlement. “But I think for our city, it’s more that it’s over.”

John Ingold: 303-954-1068 or [email protected]