ExxonMobil Ordered to Pay $105 Million in NYC Case

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ExxonMobil Ordered to Pay $105 Million in NYC Case

10/20/2009
NEW YORK -- A federal jury in New York City ruled ExxonMobil Corp. polluted the city's groundwater and ordered the oil giant to pay $105 million in damages, the city said in a statement, as reported by Reuters.

The city contended Exxon knew the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) would contaminate groundwater if it leaked from the underground storage tanks at its retail stations.

Exxon ignored warnings from its own scientists and engineers not to use MTBE in areas of the country that relied on groundwater for drinking water, the city said.

MTBE is an oxygenate that is added to gasoline to increase its octane level and reduce air pollution, but it has largely been phased out of the U.S. fuel supply because of the dangers to groundwater.

The $105 million verdict represents less than 3 percent of Exxon's second-quarter profit of $3.95 billion.

Royal Dutch Shell, BP Plc, Chevron Corp., Citgo Petroleum Corp., Hess Corp. and Sunoco Inc. have previously settled claims against them for a total of $15 million, according to the news report.

ExxonMobil said it was disappointed with the decision and would consider its legal options. The company said during the trial that its service stations were not the cause of the contamination.

"We do not believe we should be required to compensate the City of New York for someone else's contamination," company spokesman Kevin Allexon said in an email.

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