Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Navy Tests Chemical Cleanup on MTBE Beneath Base

September 23, 2000

PORT HUENEME — The Navy began a chemical cleanup Friday that it hopes will eventually lead to a blueprint for other communities across the nation to follow when removing the contaminant MTBE from water sources.

The Naval Construction Battalion Center is a test site for various methods of controlling the fast-moving pollutant that was intended to help fuels burn cleaner but has tainted ground water. The naval base was chosen because it has a large pool of MTBE beneath it.

Although methyl tertiary butyl ether has not been proved a health hazard, it has a strong turpentine-like taste and odor. The Environmental Protection Agency says it may be a carcinogen, but testing results have been inconclusive.

Scientists believe the most effective procedure to clean it up is to create a bio-barrier of microorganisms that eat MTBE, breaking it down into carbon dioxide and water.

The $1-million project was activated Friday after a month of construction and pretesting. Hundreds of pipes pierce the asphalt at the base, pumping a delicate balance of air and oxygen into the soil. After a month, bacteria will be added to help digest the MTBE.

Port Hueneme's contaminated area is about a mile long and growing at a rate as fast as 1 foot per day. It has been spreading since an 11,000-gallon gasoline leak in 1985. The faulty tanks have since been replaced.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|