ExxonMobil should continue contamination monitoring in Jacksonville

March 04, 2010

We were very disappointed to read in the Sun on Tuesday that the Maryland Department of the Environment had approved a request from ExxonMobil to stop monitoring 130 residential wells it had contaminated in Jacksonville in 2006 and to discontinue bottled water to 126 homes ("Exxon ruling draws protest," Mar. 2). While the recovery and remediation work has had significant success in retrieving gasoline and its related contaminants, this man-made disaster has not always been predictable, and residents whose homes and lives have been impacted should not be subject to uncertainty about the safety of their well water until it is clear that the entire area is completely clear of MTBE and other contaminants from the 26,000 gallon leak.

These homes have been impacted through negligent management of the Exxon station, resulting in a $4 million settlement with the state and several civil law suits. When Exxon settled with MDE it also recorded an $11 billion quarterly profit. Certainly providing quarterly or semi-annual well tests and bottled water to these residents will not break the bank for Exxon. ExxonMobil owes it to these families to maintain their confidence in the safety of their water until the entire leak has been remediated.

We applaud Gov. Martin O'Malley's request that MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson revisit this decision out of concern for the safety and confidence of our neighbors. We also appreciate Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr.'s support of the community in this matter. We urge MDE to reverse this decision.

Finally, we respectfully request that MDE and ExxonMobil communicate more with the Jacksonville community on matters of this magnitude, as they had done in the past.

Glen A. Thomas, Jacksonville

The writer is president of the Greater Jacksonville Association.

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