Ohio sues BP for $33 million in wrongful oil tank cleanup compensation

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Ohio Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Release Compensation Board on Monday announced a lawsuit against BP Inc. for wrongfully obtaining more than $33.3 million in reimbursement to clean up leaks from BP-owned underground storage tanks in Ohio.

The state alleges that BP knowingly “double dipped” by taking money both from the Petroleum Board and from insurers to cover the cost of correcting accidental leaks from underground storage tanks at hundreds of BP gas stations throughout Ohio, according to a news release from DeWine’s office.

In Ohio, the Petroleum Board administers a fund called the Petroleum Financial Assurance Fund to ensure that accidental leaks from underground storage tanks can be cleaned up. Money for the fund comes from fees paid by the owners of underground storage tanks, such as gas station owners.

The fund is considered a financial resource of last resort, and underground storage tank owners can only accept money from the fund if they do not have coverage or accept money from any other sources, such as their insurance companies, the release states.

According to the state’s lawsuit, BP wrongfully obtained $33.3 million in reimbursements from the fund after submitting its applications to the Petroleum Board, claiming it had no insurance for the leaks when it actually had layers of insurance and often accepted insurance money for the same releases.

“Our lawsuit alleges that BP knowingly and intentionally took more than $33 million that it was not eligible to accept,” DeWine said. “BP has to follow the same rules as other businesses, and can’t engage in misconduct without consequence.”

According to the state’s complaint, filed in the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, BP has submitted 2,651 claim applications to the Petroleum Board for reimbursement from the Petroleum Financial Assurance Fund for specific releases at Ohio sites. The Petroleum Board has reimbursed BP $33,360,455.61 for corrective action costs submitted in these claim applications.

An additional 905 claim applications with a value of approximately $22,281,926.28 are pending review and settlement.

The state accuses BP of numerous violations of Ohio law. Specific counts include subrogation, indemnification, breach of contract, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, and conversion.

In the lawsuit, the state seeks a judgment against BP, restitution and disgorgement of money disbursed to BP from the Petroleum Financial Assurance Fund, and damages.

The Petroleum Financial Assurance Fund was established in 1989 to address the environmental implications associated with releases from underground storage tanks.

A copy of the lawsuit can be seen here.

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