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Conservation Law Foundation plans lawsuit against Exxon Mobil over Everett terminal

The Conservation Law Foundation is preparing a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest companies, because of pollutants that the environmental group claims are leaking out of the company’s Everett terminal.

The Boston-based organization took the legal step of serving notice on the Texas-based energy giant Tuesday that it will sue in federal court in Boston within three months if the company doesn’t fully address the pollution concerns.

The Conservation Law Foundation claims the pollutants released into the Mystic River and the Island End River, a small tributary near the terminal, are well beyond what’s allowed under the terminal’s federal permit for most of the last three years. Many of those chemicals, the CLF said, are “highly carcinogenic.”


Moreover the environmental group said the energy company has not prepared the terminal in the event of flooding from rising sea levels or a catastrophic storm.

“This facility has a record of being unable to avoid unintended discharges, even under past conditions,” said Bradley Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation. “If that’s happening under day-to-day conditions, it’s very clear that this facility is not ready for the tougher conditions that lie ahead in a changed climate.”

Serving notice in this way, Campbell said, is a required step before the group can file a formal complaint against a company in federal court.

He said the Conservation Law Foundation also hopes to bring long-overdue attention to the environmental needs of the Mystic, which has been overshadowed by the Charles River in the past.

“For years, regulators in Massachusetts have devoted a lot of attention to cleaning up the Charles River,” Campbell said. “The Mystic River has not benefited from that kind of attention.”

Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon Mobil, said in an e-mail that the Conservation Law Foundation’s lawsuit “is part of a well-publicized coordinated assault on Exxon Mobil’s reputation that is underpinned by deliberately inaccurate reporting on our nearly 40 years of publicly conducted climate research.”


The Everett facility is in compliance with environmental rules, Jeffers added, and was recently inspected by state and federal environmental regulators, who found no cause for concern.

And Exxon Mobil, Jeffers said, is taking action to deal with the risk of climate change, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting environmental research.

The EPA declined to comment about the case, and the state Department of Environmental Protection couldn’t be reached for comment.

Jon Chesto can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.