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Toxic spills in Monroe County pile up


Monroe County is one of the "hot spots" on a new list of toxic spill sites across the New York. The list was released today by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

"These toxic sites pose threats to the groundwater that runs to commercial and residential homes," says Schumer, "and there may be more spills that we are not aware of."

The spills are MTBE leaks. MTBE or "methyl-tertiary-butyl-ether" is added to gasoline to make it burn more efficiently in cars and cut down on the amount of toxic emissions in our environment. The fuel additive became
popular in 1979, however, it the late 1980s, the additive was discovered to be a carcinogen or cancer-causing agent. MTBE is odorless and colorless and it dissolves easily in water.

"Typically, these leaks occur from rusty, old storage barrels that erode," says Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting, a firm based in Ithaca, NY which specializes in mapping out locations of toxic sites.

Schumer is planning to block a portion of the new Energy Bill, called the "Safe Harbor" provision. The provision, according to Schumer, would make taxpayers in New York and all over the country pay the entire cost to clean up MTBE. The Energy Bill has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives.

"This provision in the House energy bill will make sure the oil companies are exempt amazingly enough, even though they caused the polution, the taxpayer has to pay," says Schumer.

Residents in the neighborhood of Genesee Park Boulevard told News 8 that they had never been made aware of a MTBE spill from a nearby Exxon plant. The MTBE spill occurred on April 2, 1998 and has yet to be cleaned up. So far, only ground contamination has occurred, however, the DEC is monitoring the groundwater on a regular basis.

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