ExxonMobil to Pay Millions for New Hampshire Water Contamination

After a New Hampshire court ruling stated that ExxonMobil supplied over 2 billion gallons of MTBE gasoline that resulted in contaminating the state’s drinking water and causing $816 million in damages. As a result, ExxonMobil has been fined more than $236 million.

In 2003, New Hampshire sued 26 oil companies because they had supplied gasoline with the MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) additive to the state, which resulted in a widespread contamination of drinking water. The state reached a verdict with all companies, except ExxonMobil, and collected over $130 million for MTBE cleanup.

The state decided to sue ExxonMobil separately for its role in the contamination since the company supplied more than 2.7 billion gallons of MTBE gas, making up 1/3 of the state’s entire gasoline market.

On Jan. 14, 2013, the trial against New Hampshire and ExxonMobil began. After three months, the jury finally rules that the company was responsible for causing $816 million in damages across the state because of drinking water contamination. The court also ruled that ExxonMobil will be paying $236,372,664.00 in fines for the incident.

MTBE is classified as a “possible human carcinogen” by the EPA and was banned in New Hampshire in 2007. In the trial, it was discovered that even ExxonMobil’s own environmental experts had advises the company against using the additive because it makes the gasoline more resistant to biodegradation and travels farther in groundwater,  which greatly increases the changes for contaminating large amounts of water.

As a result of the MTBE gasoline being supplied to the state, experts estimate that more than 40,000 drinking water wells are contaminated and nearly 6,000 additional wells contain more MTBE than the state’s standard. There are also 228 high risk sites of MTBE-contaminated soil and groundwater across the state that are awaiting cleanup.

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