Finksburg water tests find MTBE


Water from a well serving about 40 homes in a Finksburg trailer park has tested positive for contamination from the gasoline additive MTBE, according to the Carroll County Health Department.

Officials from the county and Maryland Department of the Environment are uncertain of the contaminant's source, said Brian Flynn, water quality supervisor for the Health Department. Preliminary tests at area gas stations and an auto-parts junkyard near Sullivan's Trailer Park along Old Westminster Pike yielded negative results, Flynn said.

"With MTBE, there doesn't have to be a really large catastrophic incident in order to get detectable levels in a well nearby," he said. "It could be an overfilled home heating tank, a spill from a lawn mower or car accident."

Finksburg, particularly in the Sandymount area, has had other incidents of MTBE contamination in recent years. In October, hundreds of letters were mailed to residents and businesses in the vicinity of a High's store Citgo station and nearby Exxon station, both on Baltimore Boulevard (Route 140), and more recently groundwater samples from a Finksburg BP station across the highway also tested positive for MTBE, Flynn said.

MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, is a suspected carcinogen whose effects in drinking water have not been determined. It was detected at or above the reportable level - 20 parts per billion -in water at the station sites.

The problem in the area dates to 2002, when MTBE was detected at a Tevis Oil Co.-owned Shell station at Suffolk Road and Route 140 and found to have affected 23 wells. Affected residents in the Carroll County Trails neighborhood have filed a class action lawsuit against Stanley H. "Jack" Tevis III, president of Tevis Oil.

Water serving Sullivan's had 26.9 parts per billion MTBE when it was tested in March, and 24.8 parts per billion in January.

A meeting about the problem is planned for 6:30 p.m. May 4 at Sandymount Elementary School.

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