Bullville, NY: MTBEs

NYELJP represents the Bullville Volunteer Fire Company (BFC) in their struggle to protect their health, their Fire Station property, and their community from a series of nearby oil spills at the Mobil Hit-or-Miss gas station owned by VanEtten Oil Inc (VEO). This gas station has a history of oil and gas spills, starting in 1994, which appear to have not been properly cleaned up. DEC testing before 2007 showed elevated levels of Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) (banned in NYS in 2004), but these records were lost in the transition to digital records. In 2008, a Bullville town snowplow accidentally hit the BFC’s water well structure, prompting a test of the building’s water supply by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). This revealed high levels of MTBE and other gasoline-related compounds in the fire company’s drinking water. More spills occurred in April 2007, July 2008, and April 2010. Tests by DEC and VEO’s geologist between 2008 and 2015 showed an average of about 10 times the NYS safe drinking water standard for MTBE (10 parts per billion), and as much as 15 times. Analysis by another hydrogeologist in February 2015 showed MTBE present in three of four nearby homeowner wells also. The most recent data from December 2015 show that MTBE levels at the monitoring well fluctuated down to 40ppb, but this is still four times the regulatory level, and we expect them to rise again as they have before. MTBE degradation products such as Tertiary Butyl Alcohol (TBA) have not yet been tested for at all. TBA levels usually rise after a spill despite any reductions in MTBE.

NYELJP and the BFC are continuing to negotiate with VEO and the NYS DEC to secure appropriate and protective monitoring, remediation, and compensation.