Sunoco to pay Mass. $2.2M

Bryan Cohen Apr. 9, 2012, 1:29pm


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $2.2 million settlement on Monday with Sunoco Inc., resolving allegations that the company sought dual-payment from a state fund and insurers for hazardous waste cleanup.

Sunoco allegedly failed to disclose insurance coverage litigation and settlements reached between 1997 and 2001 as it attempted to obtain reimbursements from the Massachusetts Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Product Cleanup Fund program. Under the terms of the agreement, Sunoco will pay $1.23 million to the commonwealth's general fund and $970,000 to the UST fund.

The UST fund program was created to facilitate the cleanup of environmentally dangerous leaks from underground storage tanks, such as those found commonly at gas stations. The fund achieves this by reimbursing operators and owners for eligible expenses incurred in their cleanup response. To fund the program, the commonwealth charges delivery fees and tank registration fees.

"This program continues to be a resource to help keep our environment clean but its effectiveness and integrity depends on the honesty of those making the claims," Coakley said. "We will continue our efforts to determine whether some oil companies may have sought or recovered money from their insurers without proper disclosure and in violation of the law."

Under the terms of the UST fund's regulations, claimants must disclose if they sought reimbursement from a separate source, including insurance, for expenses that were submitted to the UST fund. If claimants recover money from both insurance and the fund for the same expenses, they are required to pay the UST fund back.

Coakley's office has been looking into whether certain oil companies submitted false statements and certifications to the UST fund, concealed an obligation to pay money back to the UST fund, received reimbursements for which they should not have qualified or failed to disclose an obligation to pay money back within a fair amount of time after discovery.

Sunoco cooperated fully with Coakley's office on this matter.

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