A federal jury in Manhattan has found Exxon Mobil liable for contaminating New York City's groundwater with a gasoline additive and has awarded the city $105 million.
The city sued Exxon Mobil in 2004 for $300 million in damages to its Jamaica, Queens-based groundwater that petroleum refiners allegedly caused by using the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) in their product. It argued the oil company ignored warnings from its own scientists and engineers not to use the additive, which allows gas to burn more cleanly, in areas that use groundwater for drinking water. New York state banned the use of MTBE in 2004.
An 11-week trial before Southern District of New York Judge Shira A. Scheindlin focused on six wells, and was part of a larger multidistrict litigation comprised of more than 200 suits concerning MTBE use. Chosen as a focus case, the city's suit was the first action in the multidistrict litigation to go to trial.
Exxon Mobil said in a statement that it was disappointed with the verdict and was considering its options. The company said it was not the source of the contamination and should not have to pay for someone else's contaminants. In a statement, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "Our water supply is one of our most vital resources -- and we will work to protect it and go after those who damage it."
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.