60 minutes - MTBE - hot air ? - Posted by Chris (FL)

Posted by Chris (FL) on January 17, 2000 at 17:42:50:

Because of MTBEs oxygen component , this stuff is super water soluble. I hope the wells in your town are OK.

Since this story was focused on one of the nations leading TV news magazines , I’ll think we’ll see a growing awareness (for better or for worse) from various media , local and federal gov. institutions as well as private citizens. Where this goes I don’t know.

Again , I’m just talking about what I saw on a sometimes accurate , sometimes not , TV show.

P.S. 60 minutes spent two segments on this story last night. Normally , they only use one segment per story. …They must think this is an important story. … I hope they are wrong.

60 minutes - MTBE - hot air ? - Posted by Chris (FL)

Posted by Chris (FL) on January 17, 2000 at 11:07:53:

I know 60 minutes likes to hype up their stories , but this MTBE thing seems interesting. … The clean air act passed about 10 years ago has mandated that our gasoline burn cleaner. So it seems the only way to do this is put in an agent called MTBE.

The fuel does burn cleaner , but it turns out that this stuff is getting in our water through leaking tanks. A gallon of gas has about a cup of this stuff in it ,and that’s all it takes to make a whole reservoir of water undrinkable. Turns out that this stuff travels through the ground at a very rapid speed due to it’s chemical composition.

Apparently there is a small town in CA known as Glenville that has had a problem with a gas station with leaky tanks. EPA came in and scared the cr*p out of people to the extent that much of the business on main street no longer exists. Much of the population has left. Those that remain can’t sell their houses.

A bunch of “experts” said that this is only the start of one of the worst environmental problems this country has seen. EPA says they are going to have to step up their efforts in finding , and then combating , this threat.

If I owned a property that used well water and it was anywhere near a gas station , I’d be watching this situation carefully. But then again , knowing 60 minutes … this whole thing could be hyped up out of proportion.

Re: 60 minutes - MTBE - hot air ? - Posted by Dan S

Posted by Dan S on January 18, 2000 at 08:37:23:

Not sure of the revelance of this topic to this newsgroup…but since you brought it up…

I can’t believe that one cupful of MTBE would make the amount of water they said undrinkable (5 million gallons? Come on.) Water (especially moving water) is a purifier. It can dilute almost any contaminant down to a meaningless amount. That’s why spills into rivers (especially by government-run sewage treatment plants) require no cleanup except to let the water run. It’s foul for a while, but eventually it cleans itself up. Granted, no one wants repeated contaminating of rivers, but an occasional spill isn’t as hazardous as we are led to believe.

Which makes me think that the reason for the MTBE scare was not even mentioned on the 60 Minutes piece. Usually there is some ulterior motive for these kinds of shows. The air pollution hype brought on MTBE. Now the MTBE hype will bring about something else-new filter or purifier or something, and someone will make a bunch of money selling them to cities and towns all over the USA. Speaking of which, isn’t there some sort of purification process that can be used on this stuff? I didn’t see the whole show so I don’t know if they addressed that or not.

Just my 2 cents. I’ve developed a sort of wariness over the years of these kinds of exposes. Follow the money-see who stands to gain-and you’ll know whether or not it is a real problem.

Dan S

Re: 60 minutes - MTBE - hot air ? - Posted by Randy -IL-

Posted by Randy -IL- on January 17, 2000 at 15:09:07:

Preface: I don’t know anything about MTBE.

But I do know that leaky gasoline tanks are EVERYWHERE!
When I say everywhere, I mean in every tiny little two horse town to the biggest bustling cities. Many farmers have buried fuel tanks. Many homes have buried fuel oil tanks as well. The EPA isn’t even aware of many tanks that are in the ground. Most of the ones that aren’t on any EPA list were installed prior to tank registration.

In my area, there are more leaking gasoline tanks than I could count. If someone did the same count elsewhere in the US I’m sure they would find the same. Usually, the environmental clean up company will determine the extent of the leak and commence digging it out. Of course, a mountain of government paperwork must be properly filed along with thousands and thousands of dollars spent on the cleanup.

The leak you describe in your post must have simply been immense. The soils must have been very porous and conducive to fluid transfer. Maybe even a very high water table.

In my little town of 5,000 people had more than 4 such cleanups. That isn’t even counting the tanks that haven’t been cleaned up yet. Very few tank removals require soil removal from neighboring properties. I have noticed no widespread property value changes as a result of these tanks. Perhaps the contaminated property experienced value change but I haven’t researched it yet.

There is something more to the story than 60 Minutes is telling. Usually with a leaking tank the biggest problem is finding the money to clean it up.

Just my two cents,

Re: 60 minutes - MTBE - hot air ? - Posted by domineaux

Posted by domineaux on January 17, 2000 at 12:19:23:


The responses from the EPA spokesman were so poor and created renewed confidence in the competence of the EPA. I love the media. They create all kinds of bias and persuasions to get us to vote and believe the way they want us to, yet, if they didn’t expose things like this where would we be. You can bet something will be done now about MTBE.

A deserted town is a pretty serious thing, especially since it only took one big pollution problem to do it in.

I really do believe it. The bureaucrats want the job, but don’t want to do the job when they get it.

Too bad they can’t be sued. When the ground water is thoroughly polluted and the air we breath is totally pure, what do you have pure dirt? NOT! America is dirt, water, and air. After we destroy our natural resources we can all eat PCP, DDT, PVC, silk flowers and diet(questionable value)soft drinks.

Let’s face it. If this type of thing wasn’t hyped no American would pay attention to it. We are so in-undated with information and misinformation, hype is all that gets attention.

It angers me to think there is so much lethargy over important issues, and such back peddling and passing the buck when it is exposed.

Give me freedom of the press, and freedom of speech and I’ll decide whether belive it or not. I’ll act accordingly, as I believe it.

I love America.

The relevance is plain. - Posted by Chris (FL)

Posted by Chris (FL) on January 18, 2000 at 10:54:30:

Unless 60 minutes is making this up , the City of Santa Monica CA has had to shut down a bunch of their reservoirs due to MTBE contamination. They are now spending millions per year bringing in water from CO. It doesn’t matter what you or I think , but what the EPA and/or whatever other municipalities think. EPA has a certian standard (rightly or wrongly) of MTBE contamination – it ain’t much – we’re talking about parts per billion here. EPA says they’re really going to have to go after this problem. New legislation has stalled in Washington – but for how long? … I don’t know what the new bill says.

Years ago , who would have ever thought that lead paint would be the stink it is today. Ditto asbestos. Same for Radon. MTBE has the potential to dwarf these problems.

My point is:

If I owned any property that uses well water , and is anywhere near a gas station ( this stuff is really supposed to travel - unlike anything we’ve seen before). I’d plug in MTBE in my search engine , and find out as much as I possibly could. If I found out that this story is not a load of media hype – I’d sell now – before the government requires MTBE disclosure , and makes the property unfinaceable.

The people of Glenville CA did not have this luxury.