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Turnabout: Exxon Sues U.S. for Oil Dumping

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (CN) - Exxon Mobil claims it spent $45 million cleaning up a Texas oil refinery contaminated by the federal government's manufacture of jet fuel and other war material during World War II and the Korean War. It wants Uncle Sam to pay it back.

Exxon seeks reimbursement of clean-up costs that it says will continue.

The oil giant claims the United States converted and expanded the oil refinery and chemical plant in Baytown, Texas, in the early 1940s to produce aviation jet fuel and other war-related materials and continued to operate the facilities through the Korean War. It claims the Government enacted legislation that gave it unprecedented power to assume control over industrial complexes.

Exxon says Uncle Sam built five more plants at its Baytown manufacture raw, war-related materials, such as synthetic rubber. It claims the government oversaw day-to-day operations of the plant, including waste disposal, and "generated substantial hazardous waste" during the 1940s and 1950s.

"Much of the solid waste generated from the operations was treated and/or disposed of at various surface impoundments at the Baytown complex. Most of the treated wastewaters was [sic] ultimately discharged into nearby surface water bodies, such as the Houston Ship Channel, Scott's Bay or Mitchell Bay, at the Baytown Site," according to the complaint.

Exxon says it has been forced to spend $45 million in "response costs" required by Texas. And it "expects to incur substantial additional response costs in the future, to investigate and remediate the contamination at the site."

Exxon also claims it spent $200,000 on a consulting firm that investigated the site to determine who was responsible for the contamination, and the search "identified the Government" as the party responsible.

On July 15, 2004, Exxon says, it confidentially demanded that the United States reimburse it for investigating and cleaning up contamination that it caused, but Uncle Sam refused.

Exxon seeks declaratory relief and damages under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980.

It is represented by Daniel Steinway with Baker Botts of Washington, D.C.

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