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Unocal Agrees to $5 Million Settlement

By Lookout Staff

Dec. 6 -- In the wake of the largest legal settlement in Santa Monica history, another oil company agreed last week to pay the City for contaminating its drinking water with an oil additive.

On Tuesday night, the City Council voted in closed session to approve a settlement with Unocal Corporation in the amount of $5 million. The vote comes less than two weeks after three major oil companies agreed to pay $92.5 million, as well as build and maintain a new water treatment facility.

Two smaller oil companies are expected to follow suit with settlements totaling $800,000, City officials said last week.

Only Lyondell, the manufacturer of the oil additive Methyl Tertiary-Butyl Ether (MTBE) -- which was found in the City's wells and is thought to be cancer producing -- has refused to discuss a settlement with the City, according to City officials.

Last month's agreement with Shell, Mobile and Chevron was a major breakthrough in the City's three year lawsuit against more than a dozen oil companies accused of contaminating five of the city’s 11 water wells with MTBE that leaked from their underground storage tanks.

The City's suit helped draw national attention and helped lead to a California ban that takes effect January 1 on the oil additive.
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