Carroll residents file suit against gas station owner over MTBE

April 01, 2005|By Sheridon Lyons | Sheridon Lyons,SUN STAFF

Two Carroll County couples whose wells have been polluted by a neighboring gasoline station filed suit against the owner and his companies in Carroll County Circuit Court, seeking unspecified financial damages for the effects on their health and property values.

In the lawsuit filed Tuesday, John and Laura Batz and neighbors James and Carol Gamber of the 200 block of Suffolk Road also ask that the court order the situation remedied by owner Stanley H. "Jack" Tevis III, and his Tevis Oil Inc. of Westminster and Shell Jiffy Mart No. 1 at Route 140 and Suffolk Road in Finksburg.

They allege Tevis has known for seven years that hazardous chemicals, including benzene and the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, have been present at the station and escaped as liquid and vapor. The four counts include allegations of negligence, trespass and nuisance.

Tevis declined to comment because he had not seen the lawsuit. He has 30 days to reply.

The Maryland Department of the Environment last year identified the Shell station as the source of the pollution. Inhalation tests have shown that MTBE, required by the state to clean the air, causes cancer in laboratory animals.

MTBE showed up in the station's water in January 2003, according to state and Carroll County health officials. Since then, 58 wells have been tested and three have levels above the state action level - 20 parts per billion.

Tevis has installed carbon-filtration systems that have lowered the readings of MTBE in water at the station and at the Batz and Gamber homes to trace or undetectable levels, according to reports from the Health Department.

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