2nd suit filed in tainting of Harford wells

From A Sun Staff Writer

With traces of a potentially carcinogenic gasoline additive now detected in wells serving 84 homes in the Fallston area of Harford County, a second lawsuit has been filed - this one by Baltimore attorney and Orioles owner Peter G. Angelos.

It was the second class action lawsuit related to the MTBE contamination to be filed in Harford County Circuit Court in as many days. Both name Exxon Mobil Corp. and John R. Hicks, who rents the gas station at Routes 152 and 165, as defendants. MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) is an additive used to make gasoline burn cleaner.

Angelos' lawsuit, filed yesterday on behalf of more than 20 families, seeks millions of dollars, the closure of the station and to have Exxon pay to connect residents to a new water source and pay for a cleanup.

Richard McIntire, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment, said 161 homes have been tested, and MTBE contamination was in 84.

At nine homes, the level of contamination was above the 20 parts per billion that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends as safe.

"We will, basically, let the lawyers handle the lawsuits," said Exxon Mobil spokeswoman Betsy Eaton. "Our focus is primarily on the health and safety of the residents of the community."

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