Gas accidents not totally preventable
With the fact that all gasoline service stations now must have their underground storage tank systems upgraded, that must mean gasoline – and the controversial additive MTBE – should no longer create a serious threat to sources of groundwater. Right?
Not necessarily, an advisory panel to California Gov. Pete Wilson’s is finding.
Jim Jones, chair of the South Tahoe Public Utility District Board of Directors and a member of the Advisory Panel on the Effectiveness of 1998 Standards for Underground Storage Tanks, said the group has found that there are still problems with a lot of the systems.
“Even the most modern systems are having significant problems,” Jones said. “I don’t see how they can design fool-proof systems that will protect our groundwater. There’s human error, construction mistakes. It doesn’t take much. A few hundred gallons can contaminate a lot of groundwater.”
Of more than 25 members on the board, Jones is one of five people representing water agencies. The panel was formed in December 1997, and the group’s final report, summarizing its findings, should be released by the end of December.
However, according to Jones, upgrading underground storage tank systems is not the solution to keeping MTBE – methyl tertiary butyl ether – from damaging groundwater sources.
What is the solution?
“Get MTBE out of the gas,” Jones said.
MTBE is an oxygenated fuel additive comprising about 11 percent of California gasoline. However, it is classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a possible human carcinogen.
More than 10 plumes of the additive are present in the groundwater on Lake Tahoe’s south shore, and STPUD has closed 35 percent of its wells because of the threat to groundwater supplies.
Unlike other gasoline compounds, such as benzene, MTBE moves rapidly in groundwater and breaks down very slowly.
Back to Front Page
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The reopening of U.S. Highway 50 starts 8 a.m. today for residents and property owners in preparation for its full opening 8 a.m. Tuesday.