The Baltimore Sun recently reported the toxic gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) has been found leaking into drinking water in nearby county wells, adding Harford County's Fallston area to the growing list of communities whose water supplies have been polluted by MTBE. More than 20 families are suing Exxon Mobil Corp. over the foul-smelling toxin which leaked into wells serving 84 homes, allegedly from an underground storage tank at a nearby Exxon station.
In October 2003, EWG compiled and published on its website all the nation's water supplies that have been contaminated with MTBE, providing a detailed record of communities facing costly clean up efforts. In large cities alone, the clean up bill could reach $29 billion, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. EWG also published internal company documents proving Big Oil pushed MTBE while hiding dangers they've known for decades. Now oil companies falsely claim the government forced them to use MTBE to clean the air.
A provision inserted into the federal energy bill by Texas and Louisiana Republican congressman at the request of oil companies and MTBE producers, would prohibit claims seeking compensation from the companies for MTBE spills and force taxpayers bear clean up costs. The MTBE provision continues to be controversial, preventing the energy bill from passing in the Senate.