From Newsday, Feb. 23:

New MTBE spills found to threaten drinking water
A study of Long Island groundwater pollution caused by the fuel additive MTBE uncovered 32 petroleum spills that had not been previously detected, including one in Ronkonkoma that state environmental officials said had threatened public drinking water.

The report, released yesterday by the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation, found that methyl tertiary butyl ether still threatens the aquifers that supply Long Island’s drinking water — despite New York’s 2004 ban on MTBE.

The study called for continued monitoring of MTBE in drinking water and recommended more tests to locate other undetected spills.

The study was prompted by a 2002 DEC survey that found Long Island had more MTBE-contaminated spill sites — 24 percent of the state’s total — than any region in New York.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency classifies MTBE as a probable carcinogen, but little is known about its effects on human health.

Thought to make fuel burn more cleanly, MTBE was added to gasoline in the 1990s in states such as New York that suffer from air pollution. Once spilled, it moves quickly through groundwater and is difficult and costly to remove.

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