Friday, June 30, 2006

MTBE, Peter King and You

Last week in central Nassau, over 32,000 residents could not use their tap water due to high levels of MTBE contamination. According to Newsday "In the largest MTBE-related health alert to date on Long Island, more than 32,000 Nassau residents were warned Tuesday not to use tap water for drinking, cooking or brushing their teeth because levels of the banned gasoline additive exceeded the state public drinking water standard.
The contamination in the West Hempstead-Hempstead Gardens water district is the latest incident of contamination by a chemical -- methyl tertiary buytl ether -- that was supposed to lessen pollution by making fuel burn cleaner but ended up wriggling its way into the groundwater that supplies most of Long Island's drinking water.
" Banned in New York State since 2004 because of water quality concerns, MTBE will continue to pose a problem because many of the gasoline spills and leaks that released it into the environment have yet to be detected, said Bruce Brownawell, a biochemist and associate professor at Stony Brook University's Marine Sciences Research Center. "Long Island is especially susceptible because it's one of the higher population areas that relies exclusively on groundwater, and we have very permeable soils," Brownawell said.
" Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting, an Ithaca-based company that compiles environmental information, disputes that figure, saying his analysis of DEC records shows that 47 public water supply wells in Nassau and 108 in Suffolk have been contaminated with MTBE.
"The DEC has not cleaned up gasoline spills all over Long Island," Hang said."
Who will pay for MTBE clean-ups and who will be held accountable for the spills?
You the taxpayer.
We followed King on this issue earlier when King voted to exempt companies from liability for MTBE contamination and place the cost of the clean-up on taxpayers
From May 10, 2005
"According to Newsday, King explained he "based his vote on pledges by GOP energy committee officials to consider an MTBE trust fund. He said such a fund could make immediate payments for MTBE pollution rather than forcing water suppliers to sue." Yup. Because that always works. "Pledge" to "consider" a trust fund doesn't sound like it's gonna happen. Back in 2002 Bush was trying to increase taxpayer liability for the Superfund trust. On the Hudson River, GE is fighting tooth and nail to avoid clean-up of PCB contaminants. And now the Town of Oyster Bay is suing defense contractor Northrop Grumman and the Navy to recover costs of environmental clean-up in Bethpage Community Park which was once part of the contractors property. When will the energy committee create a trust fund and where will the money come from. We shouldn't hold our breath that that will ever happen.
King tells Newsday "Being in the majority party requires judgment calls.... My judgment was to let the process go forward and see if we can come up with a trust fund that works."
And if they don't? Oops, too late.
Paul Granger, Superintendent of the Plainview Water Distict said "This really is disappointing, it's not helping New York, and I hope that our representatives rethink the picture here."
King in his usually prickly attitude replies to his critics "It's unfortunate when people shoot their mouths off and they don't know what they're talking about."
Suffolk County Legislator David Bishop says it best "I don't trust the trust fund... I guarantee you it will be pennies on the dollar as to what we can get in the court."
King vows to vote against the final bill if it does not include an MTBE trust fund, "If the final package is not satisfactory, I will vote against it as I have in the past."
So he voted for it before he's going to vote against it?
We'll see."

Once again, King comes out against the people and for Tom Delay backed business.


1 comment:

Van Arnold said...

I think it is inappropriate to sue up the company for adding MTBE to gasoline coz the Federal government had effectively mandated its use according to the Clean Air Act in 1990.
The law is that - those who spill or leak gasoline- with out without MTBE are required -by law-to clean it up. If they don't then an MTBE LITIGATION is appropriate.

Clear understanding of the hazardous effect of MTBE , safety measures, the reason behind the use of MTBE as an oxygenate etc. Has to be taken into consideration before filing a claim.

The company shouldn't be held liable for spills or leakages caused by the retailer or the customer.

Justice should be brought upon. Filing claims aginst the oil companies will adversely affect the oil price too. I think the government, the oil company and the EPA should together handle the clean-up cost.
The EPA also had a ahnd in mandating the use of an oxygenate. At this crucial moment, their backing up shoulod be dealt with seriously.