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Families Sue Exxon For $1 Billion

More Than 50 Lawsuits Filed For Gas Leak

May 12, 2006

Exxon-Mobil faces more than 50 separate lawsuits in which families are seeking $1 billion.

The families live near the Jacksonville Exxon station in Baltimore County where, in January, state environmental officials said as much as 26,000 gallons of fuel leaked for more than 30 days.

The Maryland Department of the Environment filed 15-count suit against Exxon-Mobil last month as crews reportedly recovered more than 10,000 gallons of gas and roughly 2 million gallons of contaminated water.

The families said their wells have tested positive for containing the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).
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"Although we're using bottled water for drinking, cooking and brushing our teeth, we’re forced to shower and clean clothes in water that may, for another 30 days, become contaminated," said Thomas Howe, a homeowner involved in the litigation.

WBAL-TV 11 News reporter Darrielle Snipes said the families claim Exxon took too long to notify the state and the neighborhood of the dangerous contamination.

The families contend that the same station experienced a 1,000-gallon gas leak in the 1980s, and claimed the station had a chance to stop the recent leak early on.

"We have knowledge that a station employee early on, within that first week, brought to the attention of Exxon specific discrepancies in the amounts of gas, and Exxon chose not to close this gas station," said Stephen Snyder, an attorney for the families.

Snipes reported the families want a community water supply installed. The state suit seeks up to $25,000 per day of violation in addition to reimbursement for costs incurred as a result of the spill. State law allows an additional $100 per gallon in fines for spills over 25,000 gallons.

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