HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) – Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced two lawsuits on Thursday against multiple major oil companies to resolve allegations they polluted Pennsylvania’s waters and misused an indemnification fund.
The first lawsuit seeks relief from multiple major oil companies for the alleged widespread pollution and harm done to Pennsylvania’s waters that was caused by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). MTBE was used as a chemical additive starting in the 1970s before it was phased out as a gasoline additive in Pennsylvania in 2005.
The lawsuit alleged the oil companies used MTBE as an additive despite their knowledge of its risk to groundwater. Even minute amounts of MTBE can render water non-potable due to foul smell and taste. Multiple states and government bodies are suing or have sued oil companies for MTBE groundwater pollution.
“When we entrust the commonwealth to the hands of others we expect that they will care for it as we do, however, when companies pollute something so precious as our water this cannot and will not be overlooked,” Kane said.
Kane’s first lawsuit seeks monetary damages, injunctive relief, fines and penalties.
The second lawsuit alleges 36 named defendants misused the Pennsylvania Underground Storage Tank Indemnification Fund (USTIF). The suit alleges the defendants used the fund for gasoline spills prior to 1994, which were not eligible for reimbursement. The defendants also allegedly collected more than $1 billion under their insurance policies for the same corrective action costs covered by the USTIF.
Kane alleged the double-dip USTIF payments were prohibited by state law and the oil companies are required to disgorge the payments.