For Immediate Release
January 4, 2008
Senior Assistant Attorney General Maureen D. Smith
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte announced today that she will continue to pursue a legal action against manufacturers and refiners of the gasoline additive MtBE, following a new study showing widespread MtBE contamination in New Hampshire's water supplies.
In September 2003, the Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit on behalf of all New Hampshire citizens against major oil companies that manufactured or added MtBE to the State's gasoline supplies. The lawsuit alleges that MtBE escapes easily from tank systems, spreads quickly and extensively through underground aquifers, does not degrade like other gasoline constituents and requires costly and long-term investigation and cleanup. The lawsuit is pending in Merrimack County Superior Court.
A new study was published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology on New Year's Day. Samples taken by the US Geological Survey from both public and private wells throughout the State show that MtBE persists throughout the State. The study documents how the chemical has spread to many public and private water supplies and resists breakdown. For example, one of every two private wells tested in highly populated areas of Rockingham County contains some level of MtBE.
Attorney General Ayotte commented: "This study illustrates the importance of pressing the State's claims against those companies that added MtBE to our fuel supplies. The damage resulting from their decision to use these defective products – MtBE and gasoline containing MtBE – persists and may well continue indefinitely. I intend to seek full recovery for the citizens of this State and full restoration of our precious water resources."
New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301