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Toxics Targeting in the News

MTBE: Hidden poison - graphic

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

Toxic fumes that won't fade away

Until three years ago, public health officials thought that when they had cleaned up spilled toxic solvents in the ground, their work was done. But then they learned about "vapor intrusion."

That is a process where the remaining traces of contaminants -- such as tetrachloroethylene -- form a gas that migrates through the soil into adjacent structures, creating a health hazard. Some of the chemicals are known carcinogens and others could create other health problems.

Cutting dry cleaning's hazards

ITHACA — It didn't take long for Jim Kellogg to realize he wasn't keen on using toxic chemicals to run his dry
cleaning business.

When using perc, or perchloroethylene, a common dry cleaning solvent, Kellogg could only have certified employees operate his machines, had to fill out reams of paperwork for state officials and there was a persistent chemical smell. Not to mention that perc can cause damage to the nervous system, affect reproductive organs and is considered a likely human carcinogen.

Another N. Meadow site tests positive for perc

ITHACA — While the Department of Environmental Conservation investigates a potential state superfund site on North Meadow Street, less than two blocks away another site with the same type of contamination was identified this summer.

N. Meadow Street home to get Superfund status

ITHACA — Audrey Whyte isn't worried — yet.

She knows it's not great that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently tested her home for toxic chemicals. Yet, the daycare center she operates from her house on North Meadow Street is doing fine, and she has plenty of friends who stop by regularly.

Outside her pale green home, surrounded by a bright menagerie of toys, conversation is about the toddlers driving plastic cars, the upcoming women's conference she's organizing and errands to run — not carcinogens.

Nice Home -- Tough Sell







Mary Beth O'Connor is looking to sell her craftsman style bungalow on the corner of South Hill Terrace and Turner Street in Ithaca.
SIMON WHEELER/Journal Staff


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.

Home shows TCE after mitigation







Janet Snoyer, left, reviews information concerning past indoor air samples taken in her home with Department of Environmental Conservation Environmental Engineer Tom Suozzo Wednesday afternoon in the living room of Snoyer's home in Ithaca.
KATE SCHLEE/Journal Staff


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

Energy bill stirs outrage

A provision in the federal energy bill passed by the House of Representatives last week could tack $260 onto the average Long Island water bill.

The add-on would pay for the cleanup of a carcinogenic gasoline additive, MTBE, that for decades has been leaking into the ground, posing a growing threat to the island's drinking-water supply.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) vowed yesterday to filibuster the bill in the Senate - unless the provision, which protects oil companies from having to foot the bill for the cleanup, is removed.

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