Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What's in YOUR water?

Yesterday we told you about another contaminated water well next to a gas drilling operation.  We then noticed Washington, District of Columbia found that link by searching for MTBE. 

So what is MTBE and how is it getting in the water?  For the answer, we went to Pennsylvania.  Seems there are "DOCUMENTED" cases after all.  Is someone in need of a new spin doctor?

Learn more about MTBE here.  YOU can't afford to miss it. 

MTBE will diffuse 8.6 times faster than Benzene. This will allow MTBE to spread laterally faster than the other hydrocarbons, creating a wider and longer plume. MTBE is 2.6 times more likely to vaporize than Benzene. MTBE is 9.2 times more likely to stay in water or to enter water from the atmosphere than Benzene.

MTBE is a known animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen. The reported U.S. production of MTBE in 1992 exceeded nine billion pounds - virtually all of it is added to gasoline. Oil companies reportedly make approximately $3 billion per year from MTBE production.

Recent testing by the U.S. Geological Survey indicated that 27 percent of the urban wells and springs tested were positive for MTBE. With its increased use, MTBE is now being found in shallow groundwater, at very low levels in some reservoirs and drinking water. The most likely sources of the groundwater contamination are leaking underground storage tanks and pipelines. Although MTBE is readily mixed with gasoline, it does not appear to be easily absorbed by soil. As a result, the MTBE moves from the leaking gasoline source into the water where it is dissolved. MTBE, like other ethers, is hydrophilic; in other words, it has a chemical attraction to water molecules. It is more than thirty times more soluble in water than other toxic compounds of gasoline. When MTBE is released into the environment via transport accidents, leaking tanks, or simple over-filling at gas stations, MTBE travels great distances underground to the water table. MTBE can contaminate surface waters, but underground drinking water supplies are most at risk.

Note: The most likely cause of the occurrence of MTBE in deep groundwater is typically steep vertical gradients caused by extraction wells, cross contamination within the aquifer, and poorly sealed wells.

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