USA Oil and Gas giant, ExxonMobil, has told Guyana on several occasions that it is more than equipped to deal with the eventuality of an oil spill. In fact, Exxon’s Country Manager, Rod Henson went on record this week stating that all systems are in place to prevent any occurrence of an oil spill off Guyana’s shores. He said that if one were to take place, then ExxonMobil would be able to respond within hours. But in the face of Henson’s words, there continues to be a shadow of doubt over ExxonMobil’s guarantees to the citizenry. This is especially when one takes into consideration, the number of lawsuits the company has faced with regard to environmental degradation. Below are just a few of those cases.
1. NEW YORK CITY LAWSUIT
In 2009, ExxonMobil was found liable for its role in groundwater contamination in New York City. A federal jury awarded US$104.7 million to the city for compensation. The city had five wells located in Queens. They had been contaminated with M.T.B.E., a water soluble, but a highly potential carcinogen. The lawsuit presented by the city was one of 23, which held oil companies responsible for M.T.B.E., which was contained in fuel which had leaked from gas station storage tanks. All of the companies, except Exxon, had settled with the city. The compensation was welcomed as money, which would be used to install and upgrade water treatment stations to remove M.T.B.E. from the drinking water supply.
2. MARYLAND ENVIRONMENTAL LAWSUIT
In 2006, an underground gasoline leak in Maryland contaminated the water supply and required residents to monitor their health medically for years. The problem was concealed for some time because ExxonMobil put up a sign indicating that the gas station, which caused the problem was closed for upgrading. The public was not immediately warned about the spill. But in 2011, a Maryland jury awarded compensatory damages in the amount of US$500 million to the families and businesses which were affected by the Exxon spill.
3. ARKANSAS TAR SANDS SPILL
In March of 2013, the Pegasus Pipeline belonging to ExxonMobil ruptured. The 67-year-old pipeline was filled with diluted bitumen when the 22-foot-long breach appeared, and more than 200,000 gallons rushed through the streets past homes, and a shopping plaza, to end in Lake Conway.
Though ExxonMobil motioned to dismiss, U.S. District Arkansas Federal Judge Kristine Baker refused, indicating that the company had committed numerous violations of water, air, and hazardous materials regulations in Arkansas and the Clean Water Act. Both Arkansas and federal governments brought the lawsuit, which stated that ExxonMobil should pay approximately US$4,300 per oil barrel spilled, with a cap of $21.5 million. The suit also indicated that the company should pay civil penalties of up to US$45,000 per day, post spill.
Mayflower residents struggled to retain their homes and town, but the chemicals in the crude oil caused multiple cases of nausea, vomiting, dizziness and headaches. The stench lingered and was so overwhelming that Exxon tore down a few houses, bought 20, and offered to buy out 62 area homes.
4. TEXAS AIR POLLUTION SUIT
In 2010, Sierra Club and Environment Texas filed a lawsuit claiming that the Exxon oil refinery operating on the Gulf coast, the largest in the United States, violated federal air pollution laws by emitting over eight million pounds of air pollution during five years of time. It was the third lawsuit filed by the environmental groups. The lawsuit sought to get a court order which required Exxon Mobil to end violations against the Clean Air Act. The company faces penalties of $37,000 per day for each Clean Air act violation. The Texas Sierra Club members, approximately 24,000 had joined the approximately 5,000 state members of Environment Texas to file the suit against ExxonMobil.
5. POLLUTION CASE
IN NEW JERSEY
The Bayway Refinery became another environmental legal hotspot when the State Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey filed suit against ExxonMobil for the loss of, and contamination of 1,500 or more acres of marshes, wetlands, waters and meadows in the northern area of the state. The lawsuits were filed in 2004, and had been litigated since then. The suit had spanned the administrations of four governors before coming to trial.
At that point, nobody was disputing Exxon’s liability, leaving the issue remaining of how much money could be recovered for damages. There had been decades of petrochemical refining and operations at the site, and the staggering amount of pollution and contamination encompassed not only the Linden and Bayonne refineries, but the land and water surrounding them.
The damage had begun in the 1870s at the Bayonne site and in the 1900s at the Linden site, continuing until the present day, when the collective area became known as Bayway. Pipeline ruptures, tank overflows and failures, spills and explosions had spread petroleum waste into sediment, soil and groundwater, leaving widespread contamination.
The state originally set the amount of US$8.9 billion for damages, which ExxonMobil contested vigorously. Ultimately, settlement talks ensued, and the state settled quietly for the sum of about $250 million. (SEE FULL MORE DETAILS AT : https://moneyinc.com/exxon-mobil-lawsuits-you-should-know-about/)
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