BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a $4 million settlement on Thursday with Shell Oil Company to resolve allegations it made false reimbursement claims for environmental cleanup projects.
Shell and Motiva Enterprises LLC, Shell's joint venture, allegedly received reimbursement payments from a state fund for environmental cleanup projects even though the company previously sought and received payments from its insurers for the same gas station sites. Shell allegedly made false claims for more than a hundred gasoline stations to get reimbursements from the state's Underground Storage Tank Petroleum Product Cleanup Fund program.
The UST Fund was established to expedite the cleanup of environmentally dangerous leaks from underground storage tanks by reimbursing owners and operators for eligible remediation expenses. UST Fund regulations require that claimants disclose if they sought reimbursement from another source, including insurance for expenses.
Shell allegedly settled claims with its insurers to obtain payments for past and future costs of remediating environmental damage at gas stations. Shell allegedly failed to disclose its lawsuit and settlements until February 2012.
"This program exists to help station operators clean up harm done to the environment, not for big oil companies to profit by double-dipping," Coakley said. "I want to thank the Department of Revenue and the UST Fund for their continued cooperation in our efforts to determine whether these companies may have sought or recovered money from their insurers without proper disclosure."
Under the terms of the settlement, Shell must pay more than $1.9 million to the UST Program Expendable Trust and more than $2 million to the state.