Environmental Health - Toxic Substances
Natural Attenuation of Fuel Oxygenates -- Laurel Bay, South Carolina Site [Completed]
Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) is just one of the hundreds of compounds in gasoline that we pump into cars across this Nation every day. However, MTBE can comprise up to 15% by volume of gasoline and is highly soluble in water. As such, releases of gasoline containing MTBE to ground-water systems at leaky underground storage tank (LUST) sites are often characterized by MTBE concentrations that are considerably higher than those of either benzene or toluene, the most soluble aromatic hydrocarbons in gasoline (each about 1 - 2% of gasoline). As a result of this higher solubility and volume, plumes of MTBE contamination in some ground-water systems can often be over 1,000 ft long.
Since 1993, a team of USGS researchers have examined the natural attenuation and fate of MTBE from this spill with emphasis on:
The knowledge gained at the Laurel Bay site has been tested at MTBE contamination sites across the Nation.
Overview of Research Accomplishments
Related Science Feature Articles
Project Remediation Related Activities
Additional USGS Information on MTBE
Additional Research at the Laurel Bay Site
Related Research Projects
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