YORK--Well owners filed a class action lawsuit on January 14, 2000 in New York
Supreme Court in Manhattan alleging that major oil companies are responsible for
statewide drinking water contamination problems caused by MTBE, a potentially
cancer-causing gasoline additive. Lewis Saul & Associates, attorneys for the
plaintiff well owners, simultaneously released government information that
identified 126 MTBE-contaminated public water supply wells on Long Island and
MTBE spills in every one of New York's 62 counties.
60 Minutes, the CBS news program, focused
national attention on MTBE by devoting unusually extensive coverage to the
pollutant on January 16, 2000. MTBE is a potentially cancer-causing gasoline
additive in widespread use. When released into the environment via leaking tanks
and spills, MTBE can contaminate drinking water wells more than one mile away.
Lewis Saul, the principal attorney in charge
of the lawsuit, said, "We are filing suit on behalf of New Yorkers who may
have the biggest MTBE pollution problem in the nation." Saul added, "MTBE-contaminated
wells across New York are a serious public health risk that will grow even worse
unless immediate action is taken."
Lewis Saul & Associates retained Toxics
Targeting, Inc., an environmental research firm, to compile government
information on MTBE hazards in New York. That firm today posted on
www.mtbecontamination.com  a map of 126 Long Island public water wells that have
reported MTBE levels. 60 Minutes used that map to illustrate MTBE problems in
Nassau and Suffolk Counties, where more than three million people drink water
drawn from a single underground source.
Toxics Targeting also today posted maps and
profiles of 1,829 MTBE spills in New York's 62 counties on
www.mtbecontamination.com . A total of 1,519 spills was identified by an internal
review conducted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)
during the fall of 1998. The additional 310 MTBE spills were identified based on
references in the DEC database that tracks Hazardous Material Spills on a
The reported MTBE spills involve hundreds of
service stations and a wide array of other public and private sites with leaking
gasoline tanks and other uncontrolled releases. Many of the spills have
contaminated groundwaters with MTBE concentrations that exceed millions of parts
per billion. The vast majority of these MTBE spills do not meet a new 10 part
per billion cleanup guideline recently proposed by New York environmental
Citizens concerned about MTBE threats to
their water supplies and homes can easily check www.mtbecontamination.com  to
locate reported MTBE spills in every county of New York. Detailed information
for specific MTBE spills can be obtained by clicking the link for each spill.
MTBE spills also can be searched alphabetically by community name.
Walter Hang, President of Toxics Targeting,
said, "Millions of Long Island residents will be shocked when they find out
that their sole source of drinking water is threatened by extensive MTBE
contamination." Hang also noted, "Unless MTBE spills across New York
are cleaned up without further delay, thousands of communities could face
drinking water hazards of unprecedented proportions."
SOURCE Lewis Saul & Associates, PC