- SANTA MONICA (Reuters)
- The California beach city of Santa Monica is suing 18 oil companies for
damages that could exceed $200 million, claiming that the firms polluted
drinking water wells with the possibly cancer-causing gasoline additive
- The companies being sued include Royal Dutch/Shell Oil,
Texaco, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, Tosco, Ultramar Diamond Shamrock and Unocal.
- Santa Monica city officials said the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency had estimated costs could total $200 million to clean
up the contamination from MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether.
- MTBE, a key component of California's clean-burning gasoline,
fell out of favour recently when a study found it contaminated ground water
supplies and could cause cancer.
- California Gov. Gray Davis has ordered its ban as of
2002. Santa Monica Mayor Ken Genser said that for decades the city had
provided drinking water from its own wells.
- "Now thanks to the oil industry, the city no longer
can use most of its drinking water," he said in a statement. "The
time has come for the oil industry to pay for the clean-up of its pollution
and for the city to regain use of its most precious natural resource-drinking
- The city, which borders Los Angeles, said oil companies
walked away from negotiating a clean-up plan earlier this year, after MTBE
was found to have seeped into city drinking wells.
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