A decade after suing oil companies over MTBE pollution, New Jersey is still collecting millions in settlements

Three large oil companies have agreed to pay New Jersey nearly $200 million in settlements over a pollution lawsuit that has stretched on for more than a decade.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced Monday that settlements reached with Sunoco, BP and Shell in lawsuits over methyl tertiary butyl ether (or MTBE) totaled $196.5 million. That total breaks down as follows:

Sunoco’s settlement is for $64 million; the company has already paid the state.
BP’s settlement is also for $64 million. The company has so far paid New Jersey $32 million, and the remaining half of the money, with interest, is due in July.
Shell’s settlement is for $68.5 million. That money is due by this Friday.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, MTBE is a chemical that is added to gasoline in order to boost the fuel’s octane, which helps the fuel burn more completely and reduce tailpipe emissions.

MTBE easily dissolves in water, which means that it can easily contaminate drinking water systems. The chemical is known to cause cancer in lab animals, according to the American Cancer Society, but it is unclear if the chemical is a carcinogen in humans.

As a result of the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, MTBE use has been phased out around the nation and ethanol has replaced the chemical in gasoline.

In June 2007, former Attorney General Anne Milgram filed a single complaint against multiple defendants on behalf of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection over MTBE pollution sites around the state.

In the lawsuit, filed under the state Water Pollution Control Act, New Jersey sought money to cover the cleanup of MTBE-polluted waters as well as damages.

The complaint has been amended since then, most recently …read more

Source:: New Jersey Real -Time News


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