The city of Merced on Saturday settled a lawsuit with several major oil companies concerning the contamination of groundwater with the cancer-linked chemical MTBE.
Under the settlement, Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Co. and Exxon Mobil Corp. have agreed to pay the city $2.2 million.
Methyl tertiary butyl ether, an additive used in the 1990s to help fuel burn cleaner, has been banned in several states, including California, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.
Chevron agreed to pay $1,417,576; Shell, $634,507; and Exxon, $147,917. In exchange, the city agreed not to pursue its costs in the case.
The city filed a lawsuit in 2005, arguing the oil companies sold fuel containing MTBE to local gas stations that leaked into the groundwater. The fuel was sold from 1992 to 2002, after which the substance was banned by the state.
In February, a Merced County Superior Court jury awarded the city about $2.97 million.
That amount was reduced by the court to about $2.3 million to account for a prior settlement with Conoco- Phillips, in which the city received $1.25 million.
The oil companies appealed the decision before both sides agreed to settle.
The city's case is separate from another similar pending lawsuit between the oil companies and the former Redevelopment Agency.
Reporter Joshua Emerson Smith
can be reached at (209) 385-2486