Monday, February 18, 2013

Old Gas Leak Sparks Water Ban in Wisconsin


By: Nathan Lamb

Contaminants from an old gas leak have left residents of a Wisconsin apartment complex without drinking water for more than three months, according to this article from the Kenosha News.

Roughly 25 residents of the Lincoln Crest Apartments at Twin Lakes have been getting by on bottled water since high levels of a gasoline additive were discovered at the complex’s well by the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in late October.

The testing revealed methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), a fuel octane heightening compound that’s considered a potential carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The contamination was traced back to leaky tanks at a neighboring gas station, which were removed in the early ‘90s. Contaminated soil was found up to 10 feet underground and excavated from the site, and shallow wells nearby were re-drilled because of the problem.

While leakage has stopped the gas station, the groundwater remains an issue. Contamination was discovered at two neighboring sites with deeper wells over the past five years. A DNR official says that it’s unclear how the contamination reached that deeper aquifer, but added that MBTE moves quickly though soil and can spread rapidly through groundwater.

A new and deeper well is being drilled for the Lincoln Crest Apartments, using funds from a state gas inspection tax.

Twin Lakes is a village of roughly 6,000 people, approximately 50 miles southwest of Milwaukee.

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