CITGO Agrees to Settle in MTBE Contamination Suit
CONCORD, N.H. -- Just one day after the state of New Hampshire's trial began against ExxonMobil Corp. and CITGO Petroleum Corp. seeking $816 million in fees to monitor and treat water systems contaminated by the additive MBTE, the latter oil company has settled.
According to Bloomberg, CITGO reached an agreement with New Hampshire to be dismissed from the suit while a settlement is completed.
The trial began on Jan. 14. The settlement was announced on Jan. 15 after a witness, Graham Fogg, a professor of hydrology at the University of California, Davis, testified that 2 percent of the state's private wells are polluted with hazardous levels of MTBE, making the water unfit for drinking, reported the news outlet.
The New England state is seeking damages from companies based upon their market share of gasoline sales in New Hampshire during the period in question. It is unknown what compensation CITGO will pay New Hampshire. However, Bloomberg estimated that since CITGO's market share of gasoline sales were between 3.1 percent and 8.7 percent, the state could be seeking between $25 million to $71 million from CITGO.
Under terms of the agreement, the two parties must complete the settlement by Feb. 15 or agree to an extension.
"The parties stipulate that CITGO Petroleum shall be severed from the above captioned case until such time as a consent agreement between CITGO and the state is filed with the court," a joint statement read, which was signed by Nate Eimer, a lawyer for CITGO, and Mary E. Maloney, New Hampshire's assistant attorney general.
The trial will still go on between New Hampshire and ExxonMobil. When asked about a possible settlement for the oil giant, ExxonMobil spokeswoman Claire Hassett told the news source that "nothing has happened that would change our approach to this litigation."
Fogg is currently is being cross-examined by ExxonMobil attorneys, who questioned the professor's numbers and methodology, the website reported. MTBE is an acronym for methyl tertiary butyl ether. According to New Hampshire, when the additive is used in gasoline, MTBE presents a risk of groundwater contamination.