New aquifer threat from petrol concerns water companies

An additive used in unleaded petrol, methyl butyl tertiary ether (MTBE), is becoming a common contaminant of aquifers in southern and eastern England. At least two serious incidents have occurred, and surveys are revealing low levels of the compound in many rural and urban areas.

Petrol leakages are a well known source of soil and groundwater contamination. In April, Shell admitted that one-third of its service stations have contamination problems (ENDS Report 219, pp 4-5 ). The figure is thought to be typical of all retail sites.

The introduction of unleaded petrol into the UK seven

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