Thursday, January 28, 2010

Water Test and MTBE

About ten years ago, there was a big accident nearby where a tanker spilled gasoline that leeched into the ground and contaminated the groundwater. It was a complete mess, and the local wells were all polluted with toxic MTBE, which is a fuel additive that is supposed to make gasoline burn cleaner. Isn't it ironic how something that is supposed to make gas cleaner is a toxic carcinogen itself? You have to love technology.

Anyway, we were informed of this when we bought the house. The problem was so bad that the governor banned the use of MTBE in gasoline after that specific incident. The houses in the town and even the school could no longer drink their water. They had to buy all their drinking water, which I believe was paid for by the oil company. What a way to live.

The so-called experts declared that after years, the water was clean the chemicals had disappeared, but a recent article in the paper indicated that was not the case. A family claimed their water was still not clean and wanted the town to dig them a new well with the settlement money. The town was reneging.

The house in question is not far from us, so naturally we wondered about our own water. We were assured that all was well (no pun intended), but we can't seem to place where the actual spill occurred, and wonder if we are in the path of dissipation, which is in the direction of the river. We wanted to know, and the state offers a test for all volatile compounds that includes MTBE.

The kit is expensive, but such is the cost for peace of mind. Also, the test is a pain, requiring extra care that made me neurotic. There are preservatives, and for whatever reason, the use of hydrochloric acid. I felt like I was working in the lab. The samples had to be bubble free, and kept cold and received by the state within 48 hours. Because of the chemical content, they had to be sent with special instructions, etc., etc.

In the end, we just got the results, and our water is clean. Hooray for that. We drink a lot of water, and for about two weeks, it was making me nervous.

Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to hevonens for the pic.

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