PROVIDENCE, R.I. (Legal
Newsline) — Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and Rhode Island
Department of Environmental Management (DEM) have announced a lawsuit against
gasoline manufacturers in order to recover expenses associated with the cleanup
of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
“The state has incurred
significant costs to remove MTBE from sites where it has leaked into soils and
groundwater, costs that should not be borne by the state or by taxpayers but by
the companies who knew that their product would cause this contamination,” Kilmartin
According to the lawsuit,
defendants added MTBE to gasoline to increase oxygen content. MTBE leaked from
underground storage tanks around the country, contaminating groundwater and
soil. MTBE has allegedly been found in drinking water, which according to
research can cause serious health problems. Rhode Island placed a ban on MTBE
in 2007. The additive, however, still allegedly contaminates groundwater in the state.
“MTBE has caused significant
groundwater contamination throughout Rhode Island. And although it is no longer
in use, MTBE's effects on our environment persist – threatening our families,
wildlife, and precious natural resources,” said Janet Coit, director of Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management. “It is time the companies
responsible for adding this compound to gasoline are held accountable for the
costs of cleanup.”
Defendants in the case are
all major oil companies that supplied MTBE-containing gasoline to Rhode Island.
Prominent defendants include ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Chevron, Citgo,
ConocoPhillips, Shell, Sunoco, Total and Valero, among others.