Exxon Mobil to Pay $105 Million for Contaminating New York City's Groundwater

Search form

Exxon Mobil to Pay $105 Million for Contaminating New York City's Groundwater

Exxon Mobil to Pay $105 Million for Contaminating New York City's Groundwater
Tue, 7/30/2013 - by Mica Rosenberg
This article originally appeared on Originally published by Reuters

A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld a ruling against Exxon Mobil Corp ordering the company to pay $105 million in damages for polluting New York City's groundwater with a toxic gasoline additive.

The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a 2009 jury verdict that found Exxon contaminated water supply wells when methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) leaked from its underground storage tanks in the borough of Queens.

The appeals court rejected Exxon's arguments that it was required to use the additive under the federal Clean Air Act. Exxon said it would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

An oxygen-containing substance that is added to gasoline to promote more complete combustion and reduce air pollution, MTBE was one of several additives recommended by regulators to reduce emissions.

It has now largely been phased out of the U.S. fuel supply because of the danger to groundwater.

"MTBE has not been used for seven years," said Exxon spokesman Todd Spitler. "Cleanup successfully continues."

New York City claimed Exxon went ahead and used the chemical in the 1980s through the first half of the 2000s despite warnings from its own scientists and engineers that it could be harmful in areas that relied on groundwater for drinking.

MTBE has been identified as an animal carcinogen and a possible human carcinogen and causes water to smell foul and taste bad.

"Yet again, this company, which carelessly polluted our groundwater supply, has been put in its place by a court," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement. "This should be a warning to any company whose actions threaten New Yorkers' health and quality of life."

The water wells in southeast Queens that were contaminated serve as a backup supply for the city's drinking water when the reservoirs upstate go offline because of repairs or droughts.

The city is planning to install and upgrade treatment stations to remove the MTBE to ensure the drinking water meets the same standards as the upstate system, the New York City Law Department said in a statement.

"What's at issue here isn't just the choice to use MTBE, it's the failure to warn people and the failure to take the steps that ... would have avoided or mitigated the environmental impacts of it," said attorney Victor Sher of the San Francisco-based law firm of Sher Leff that represented the City of New York.

Judges in the Second Circuit said the 11-week New York trial in 2009 was meant to serve as a bellwether case to provide guidance for other MTBE complaints that have been brought around the country.

In April, a New Hampshire jury ruled that Exxon would have to pay $236 million for MTBE contamination of drinking water in the state. The company said at the time it had strong arguments for an appeal.

Other major oil companies, including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and Chevron Corp, previously settled MTBE claims with the city for a total of $15 million, the law department said.

 
 
 

Article Tabs

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, community bill of rights, Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods

Across the country, battles are raging as communities attempt to protect the air, soil and water within their borders and the safety of their residents.

prison divestment campaign, criminal justice reform, Columbia Prison Divest, Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group, Dream Defenders, incarceration rates, Student Alliance for Prison Reform

Columbia Prison Divest pressured the university to dump $8 million in Corrections Corporation of America, the country’s largest private prison company, as well as shares in other behemoths of the private security industry.

Barnesville, Gulfport Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Antero

A tiny town in eastern Ohio is being sued by an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company that bought more than 180 million gallons of water from the town last year.

History shows that liberals need radicals.

American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC, BP, climate change denial

Oil company BP said on Monday it has stopped supporting conservative political group ALEC, becoming the latest corporation to end its membership in a group critics say works to deny the existence of climate change.

Until the federal government gets serious about bailing out America’s students and instituting free, public higher education for all who apply, America’s student debtors should refuse to make any further payments.

Posted 4 days 12 hours ago
fracking studies, anti-fracking movement, fracking ban, Real Media, Debt Resistance UK, Anti-Daily Mail week, WailOnline, Blockupy, Occupy Rupert Murdoch

Imagine a world where the 1% doesn't have a monopoly over science and news – but where we can instead think for ourselves.

Posted 5 days 9 hours ago
money in politics, Citizens United, Edward Snowden, kleptocracy, surveillance programs, NSA, whistleblowers

Welcome to 1% Elections, the privatization of the State, a fourth branch of government, and the demobilization of "We the People."

Posted 4 days 11 hours ago
healthcare privatization, National Health Service, Cancer Not for Profit, 38 Degrees

Last week saw the biggest leak in the history of the U.K. National Health Service, with the publication of a document that revealed clinical commissioning groups were looking for a private company to accept a £1.2 billion contract for cancer care.

Posted 3 days 11 hours ago

In this week’s episode of Act Out!, Eleanor talks clowns, burning cars and the riots against austerity in Europe, while looking at the role of art in activism and giving you some tools to get started.

Posted 3 days 11 hours ago
money in politics, Citizens United, Edward Snowden, kleptocracy, surveillance programs, NSA, whistleblowers

Welcome to 1% Elections, the privatization of the State, a fourth branch of government, and the demobilization of "We the People."

fracking studies, anti-fracking movement, fracking ban, Real Media, Debt Resistance UK, Anti-Daily Mail week, WailOnline, Blockupy, Occupy Rupert Murdoch

Imagine a world where the 1% doesn't have a monopoly over science and news – but where we can instead think for ourselves.

Barnesville, Gulfport Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, Antero

A tiny town in eastern Ohio is being sued by an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company that bought more than 180 million gallons of water from the town last year.

Canada, The Intercept, Citizen Lab, Security of Information Act, QUANTUM, Communications Security Establishment

Canada has adopted aggressive tactics to attack, sabotage and infiltrate targeted computer systems.

Sign Up