Read

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.

 
 
 

Add new comment

Sign Up

Article Tabs

climate chaos, carbon emissions, climate movement, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, worldwide climate protests, disrupting dirty power, Climate Mobilization, 350.org, keep it in the ground, renewable energy transition

Starting next week, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

protest movements, social mobilizations, movement of the squares, Occupy Wall Street, Podemos Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders, protest demands, horizontal democracy, Arab Spring, Nuit Debout

The movements of the squares were a watershed moment that profoundly changed grassroots and institutional politics – they have enthused in equal measure as they have disappointed, both under-delivering and over-delivering on their promises.

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

climate crisis, climate information, Climate Feedback, accurate climate coverage

Climate Feedback brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting.

Black Lives Matter, ACLU of Oregon, state surveillance, surveillance programs

Monitoring the social media use of BLM activists is an example of "how the level of trust between law enforcement and communities of color has been so damaged," the civil rights group says.

migrant crisis, East African migrants, migrant smugglers, organ trafficking

A week ago, on April 17, 400 East Africans drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after their boat capsized on the way to Italy – and when the numbers get this big, we forget that they are individual lives being lost, like this, every day.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
Panama Papers, tax avoidance, tax shelters, corporate tax evasion, Oxfam

The names on the list of "Broken At the Top" are like a who’s who of big business – and some of the headline figures are simply staggering.

Posted 4 days 59 min ago
British academies, privatized education, lower teaching standards, low teacher pay, National Union of Teachers, Anti-Academies Alliance

“It is a complete bonfire of pay and conditions," said David Gilchrist of the Anti-Academies Alliance, who claims the government has "no evidence to back up the claim that academies improve educational standards – in fact the opposite is true."

Posted 5 days 2 hours ago

In recent weeks, thousands of people marched and were arrested on the steps of the Capitol demanding that the people’s voice be heard: that we the people, not money, be the driving force of our government.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

Posted 3 days 1 hour ago

The Bay Area currency operates a commercial barter system – where businesses with unused inventory or excess capacity "deposit" their excess into an exchange, and “withdraw” other businesses’ excess goods and services instead of money.

act out, occupy, spoken word, poetry, Harriet Tubman, 20 dollar bill, money in politics, regulation, cost benefit analysis, human life, cost of life, value of life, Public Citizen, Amit Narang, corporate accountability, corporate malfeasance, May Day, Int

This week, regulation is the name of the game if you want to hold corporations accountable and keep them in line with the interests of people and planet. Sadly, there's one serious hurdle standing between us and regulation.

climate chaos, carbon emissions, climate movement, Break Free from Fossil Fuels, worldwide climate protests, disrupting dirty power, Climate Mobilization, 350.org, keep it in the ground, renewable energy transition

Starting next week, a global wave of mass actions will target the world’s most dangerous fossil fuel projects.

climate crisis, climate information, Climate Feedback, accurate climate coverage

Climate Feedback brings together a global network of scientists who use a new web-annotation platform to provide feedback on climate change reporting.

In recent weeks, thousands of people marched and were arrested on the steps of the Capitol demanding that the people’s voice be heard: that we the people, not money, be the driving force of our government.