By EDVARD PETTERSSON and SOPHIA PEARSON
ExxonMobil and Chevron were among oil companies sued by
Pennsylvania for polluting groundwater with a gasoline
additive in a lawsuit similar to cases brought by New York
City, New Hampshire and Vermont.
BP and Citgo, the Houston-based unit of Venezuelas
state-owned Petroleos de Venezuela SA, also were named in two
complaints made public Friday in state court that seek
damages for costs to clean up groundwater tainted by Methyl
Tertiary Butyl Ether, or MTBE.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Governor Tom
Corbetts office of general counsel filed the
MTBE-related spills over the past 20 years have cost
Pennsylvania hundreds of millions of dollars, James
Schultz, the governors general counsel, said in a
statement. We cannot take the health of
Pennsylvanias waters for granted and their protection
must remain our utmost priority.
The Pennsylvania lawsuits follow scores of claims filed by
cities, states and individuals around the US against oil
refiners, retailers and distributors over MTBE. ExxonMobil,
Chevron and BP were among two dozen US refiners sued this
month by Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell.
The US Supreme Court in April upheld a jurys $104.7
million damage award against Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil
for contaminating New York City wells with the additive.
The city sued oil companies in 2003, alleging they knew the
additive would pollute groundwater. ExxonMobil argued that
state laws were pre-empted by the federal Clean Air Act,
which required oil companies to reformulate gasoline to
reduce air pollution from vehicle emissions
. Oil companies added
MTBE to make it burn more efficiently.
Reasonable alternatives to MTBE were available at the time
oil companies jointly promoted gasoline with the additive,
Pennsylvania claims in its lawsuit.
Braden Reddall, a spokesman for San Ramon, California-based
Chevron, said the company hadnt yet seen the suit and
couldnt comment. Scott Dean, a spokesman for
London-based BP in Houston, had no immediate comment.
ExxonMobil spokeswomen Ellen Sublett and Devan Dal Col
didnt return a call seeking comment on the lawsuit.
Fernando Garay, a Citgo spokesman, didnt immediately
return an e-mail seeking comment.
Pennsylvania wants the companies held liable for
manufacturing a defective product, creating public nuisances
and negligence. The complaint also seeks punitive damages for
wanton, malicious, oppressive and fraudulent
conduct, according to the filing.