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Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE)

In Town of Contaminated Wells, Outrage and Fear

One Sunday afternoon in mid-October, Daniel Whalen was helping a neighbor saw a limb off a tree when the neighbor said something disturbing: state environmental officials had told him to stop drinking water from his well, and to stop cooking and showering with it, too.

A FINAL PUSH IN CONGRESS: ENERGY BILL; Even With Bush's Support, Wide-Ranging Legislation May Have Been Sunk by Excess

Bush's Support, Wide-Ranging Legislation May Have Been Sunk
by Excess
Published: November 26, 2003

WASHINGTON, Nov. 25 — In the end, the energy bill that fizzled in the last days of Congress was undone by an overload.

Test Case in Charges That Gas Stations Imperil Water

PLAINVIEW, N.Y., May 21 — When Paul Granger, the water district superintendent here, came to work one morning in 2000, he spotted a rig test-drilling for pollution at a gasoline station across the road from two wells that pump up to 1.7 million gallons of drinking water a day.

He expressed concern that pollution might be threatening the water supply, and eventually his district sued three filling stations, affiliated with Exxon, Shell and Gulf.

As the trial in that case opened in Garden City on Monday, the nation’s water supply industry and major oil companies were watching closely.

The outcome of the case could set a national precedent on who will pay the estimated tens of billions of dollars to clean up contamination caused by MTBE, a potentially carcinogenic fuel additive, now widely banned, that seeped into the ground as gasoline leaked from fuel storage tanks across the country.

Settlement Will Help Clean Suffolk Water

When several major oil companies agreed earlier this month to pay nearly $424 million to settle a federal lawsuit brought by scores of water providers claiming damages from the gasoline additive M.T.B.E., one Long Island provider took the largest share by far.

The Suffolk County Water Authority in Oakdale, which supplies water to more than 1.1 million customers in the county, walked away with $73.4 million of the settlement. That figure was by far the highest among the Long Island providers and the other more than 150 water companies from 17 states.

32 Gas Stations in Report Show Spillage Signs

Correction Appended

THE water that fills the drinking glasses and bathtubs of Long Islanders comes from right beneath their feet. Thousands of public and private water wells wick groundwater from aquifers, the sole source of drinking water for 2.7 million people.

But a new study shows that they could be getting more than just water.

A four-year federally financed survey of 52 gas stations across Long Island found 32 of them to have previously unidentified petroleum spills that could threaten the Island’s aquifers.

Wells near gas plant closed

Drinking water found contaminated with Freon 12;
problem not linked to toxic leaks at MGP site

State health officials and consultants at a public meeting last week were quick to note that two public drinking water wells a stone's throw from a highly toxic utility gas-plant site in Hempstead are not contaminated with waste from the plant's toxins. Even under the worst of circumstances, contamination won't reach the 500-foot-plus deep wells for 16 to 175 years, they said.

All's not well with the water

Sen. Charles Schumer chose Elizabeth DelBuono's yard in Smithtown to dramatize his campaign to hold oil companies accountable for the cleanup costs of fuel spills that contaminated groundwater with the gasoline additive MTBE.

MTBE: Hidden poison - graphic

A graphic providing a history and explanation of Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE).

What Seeps Beneath

PAUL GRANGER, the superintendent of the Plainview Water District, had to shout over the sound of a 150-horsepower pump as it sucked 995 gallons of water a minute up from a layer of sandy soil 400 feet underground.

"A lot of people don't realize that their water comes out of the ground right underneath them," Mr. Granger said, standing inside the small brick building that houses the pump on the front lawn of the district's headquarters on Manetto Hill Road. That underground water supply, or aquifer, supplies the drinking water for nearly three million people living on Long Island.

Toxic spills in Monroe County pile up

Monroe County is one of the "hot spots" on a new list of toxic spill sites across the New York. The list was released today by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

"These toxic sites pose threats to the groundwater that runs to commercial and residential homes," says Schumer, "and there may be more spills that we are not aware of."

The spills are MTBE leaks. MTBE or "methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether" is added to gasoline to make it burn more efficiently in cars and cut down on the amount of toxic emissions in our environment. The fuel additive became


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