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

Standing Rock Sioux protests, Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality, police violence, fossil fuel protests, Big Oil, Diggers, attack dogs

Some of the faces and voices from Standing Rock, in their own words.

U.K. surveillance legislation, Investigatory Powers Bill, Snoopers Charter, U.K. terrorism surveillance, U.K. surveillance programs, internet surveillance, cell phone surveillance, metadata

The Investigatory Powers Bill – or “Snoopers Charter” – is now enshrined in U.K. law, forcing internet and mobile phone companies to keep a record of all citizens’ browsing and phone use, even if they aren't suspected of terrorism.

Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

money in politics, Don McGahn, campaign finance laws, FEC, campaign finance regulation, Citizens United, money as speech

Don McGahn, soon to be Donald Trump’s White House counsel, bears as much responsibility as any single person for turning America’s campaign finance system into something akin to a gigantic, clogged septic tank.

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

Somali-Americans, Somali businesses, Abdul Razak Artan, Ohio State attacks, Somali activism

The Somali-American community was bashed last week after Abdul Razak Artan, a member of Ohio's large and growing Somali community, took part in a car-ramming attack and massive stabbing at the school that left 13 injured.

Posted 5 days 35 min ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock, Alex Garland, North Dakota, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests

Here are some of the faces from Standing Rock, in their own words.

Posted 5 days 21 min ago

This week, the ice is melting, sea levels are rising and science denying psychopaths are steering the canoe.

Posted 3 days 22 hours ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests, DAPL

"We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us."

Posted 5 days 19 hours ago
Big Oil, Big Finance, economic transformation, climate collapse, economic alternatives, fossil fuel free, fossil fuel divestment, copyright laws, infrastructure investment, worker-owned cooperatives, jail the bankers, too big to fail

Moving society away from carbon dependence is not just about becoming good consumers, but engaged citizens.

Posted 2 days 18 hours ago
Dakota Access Pipeline, Standing Rock Sioux tribe, Standing Rock protests, DAPL

"We thank the tribal youth who initiated this movement. We thank the millions of people around the globe who expressed support for our cause. We thank the thousands of people who came to the camps to support us."

Standing Rock Sioux protests, Dakota Access Pipeline, police brutality, police violence, fossil fuel protests, Big Oil, Diggers, attack dogs

Some of the faces and voices from Standing Rock, in their own words.

Somali-Americans, Somali businesses, Abdul Razak Artan, Ohio State attacks, Somali activism

The Somali-American community was bashed last week after Abdul Razak Artan, a member of Ohio's large and growing Somali community, took part in a car-ramming attack and massive stabbing at the school that left 13 injured.

Jill Stein, presidential recall, recount votes, voting machines, hacked votes

Hours after dropping its case at the state level, the campaign said late Saturday it will pursue efforts in federal courts to contest the Nov. 8 election in Pennsylvania.

U.K. surveillance legislation, Investigatory Powers Bill, Snoopers Charter, U.K. terrorism surveillance, U.K. surveillance programs, internet surveillance, cell phone surveillance, metadata

The Investigatory Powers Bill – or “Snoopers Charter” – is now enshrined in U.K. law, forcing internet and mobile phone companies to keep a record of all citizens’ browsing and phone use, even if they aren't suspected of terrorism.