NH jury finds ExxonMobil liable for $236m in MTBE contamination

09 April 2013 23:21  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A New Hampshire jury on Tuesday ordered ExxonMobil to pay $236m (€182m) in damages after jurors determined that the US oil giant was liable in a lawsuit accusing it of polluting the state’s groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE.

Methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, is mostly used as a fuel additive to raise the oxygen content of gasoline. In 1999, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determined that MTBE could pose risks to water supplies and recommended that the industry begin reducing the use of MTBE in gasoline as quickly as possible.

On Tuesday, jurors determined that ExxonMobil was negligent in adding MTBE to its gasoline and that it failed to warn distributors about the chemical’s risks as a contaminant.

ExxonMobil said it plans on appealing the case.

“We appreciate the jurors’ service during this long trial, but erroneous rulings prevented them from hearing all the evidence and deprived us of a fair trial,” said company spokesperson Rachael Moore.

“MTBE worked as intended to improve our air quality, and the benefits of its use substantially outweighed the known risks,” she said. “MTBE contamination in New Hampshire is rapidly decreasing, and the state’s current system for cleaning up gasoline spills ensures safe drinking water.”

ExxonMobil said it had “strong legal and factual agreements to make an appeal” and looks forward to making its full case.

($1 = €0.77)

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By: Tracy Dang
+1 713 525 2653



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