Maryland sues petroleum companies over groundwater contamination

Maryland has filed a lawsuit against more than 50 petroleum-related companies over groundwater pollution from a chemical compound that used to be common in gasoline.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Baltimore City Circuit Court by Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh’s office, alleges that ExxonMobil, Chevron, and dozens other companies knew a fuel additive called methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE, would contaminate groundwater and tried to obstruct research about its harmful effects.
“These companies knew that the use and sale of MTBE gasoline in Maryland would contaminate the State’s drinking water and render a lot of it virtually undrinkable.
Together with the Maryland Departments of Health and the Environment, we are bringing this suit to ensure that the State’s water resources are restored.” The American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers, which represents petroleum companies, blasted the lawsuit as misguided and misdirected.
“This system has been effective and should be used instead of litigation by plaintiffs hoping for a payday.” A spokesman for Chevron said he could not comment because the company had not yet been served.
MTBE was used as a fuel additive in gasoline beginning in the late 1970s.
Still, polluted groundwater remains and the state is seeking to recover the costs of inspecting and cleaning up the contamination.
“This is yet another area in which the Hogan administration is showing leadership to protect and preserve Maryland’s environment and vital natural resources,” said Amelia Chasse, a spokeswoman for Gov.
In September, the state sued the EPA for cross-state air pollution.
New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico are also pursuing cases against petroleum companies.

Learn More