Exxon Mobil pollution of New York groundwater
It was reported in the Huffington Post on 26th July 2013 that a US appeals court had 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 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 US 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 US fuel supply because of the danger to groundwater.
New York City claimed Exxon went ahead and used the chemical from the 1980s through to 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.
"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.
This story has been added to our corporate database. The database powers all our live product guides, giving the score for each company on our rankings tables. Find out more about how we rate companies.
Register on the site to receive our free monthly email newsletter and keep up-to-date with all our research and campaigning.
Ethical Consumer on Google+