- Apr 15, 2010
MTBE is toxic and would easily mix with groundwater when MTBE containing gasoline leaked from the buried tanks at gas stations. The liability for remediation was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.MTBE is what was used as an oxygenate in this area (EPA non-attainment area so oxygenated gas, also known as RFG, reformulated gas, is required). But MTBE can get into groundwater and a very small amount of MTBE will make water taste bad. The oil companies wanted indemnity from their use of MTBE, the Feds wouldn't give it to them, so we get ethanol instead of MTBE because the oil companies don't want the liability from using MTBE if it spoils someone's well water.
It seemed to me that gasoline with MTBE had a different odor compared to gasoline without it.
I had a short stint with an environmental engineering firm back in the mid 1990's and one of our clients was a MTBE plant in SE Houston (Deer Park, Texas City, Pasadena area). We knew then it was bad stuff. I spent many hours crawling around that plant working with the operators.