City of New York Claims Exxon Mobil Corporation is Liable for Contaminated Well Water In Queens

August 7, 2009

(New York Times)

Lawyers for New York City are trying to convince a jury in a federal trial that Exxon Mobil knew that an additive that it used in gasoline would contaminate groundwater.

The trial, which began on Tuesday before Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of United States District Court in Manhattan, is one of hundreds of cases that have been presented around the country against oil companies over the additive, M.T.B.E., a chemical compound that replaced lead in gasoline as an octane enhancer. Such enhancers boost engine performance and help prevent knocking.

New York City’s case against Exxon Mobil arose from the contamination of groundwater wells in Jamaica, Queens, that are designated as part of a backup system for drinking water in emergencies or droughts. In 2003, the city sued 23 oil companies over the contamination; it has reached settlements with 22, for a combined $15 million.

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