MTBE found in wells near Royal Farms store

Low levels of the gasoline additive MTBE have been found in a handful of wells near a Royal Farms store and gasoline station in South Carroll, according to county health officials.

Brian Flynn, Carroll County Health Department's water quality supervisor, said his office has tested about 10 areas around the county since February. The Royal Farms site in Gamber is the first with readings above the state standard.

The Maryland Department of the Environment has set an action level of 20 parts per billion for MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether), a suspected carcinogen, Flynn said. Of 35 properties tested at and around the Royal Farms site, he said four were in the 20 ppb to 40 ppb range, with the highest at 41 ppb. The level drops to single digits farther away from the station, he said.

A state inspection found no apparent problem with the store's gasoline-dispensing operation. There were no complaints, as in some other cases, about the taste or smell of the water.

The well that serves the Royal Farms store was closed briefly. A carbon filtration system was installed there and at four residential wells and one other commercial site, now vacant, Flynn said. Two of these systems were installed to remove the gasoline compounds benzene and xylene, not MTBE, he said.

- Sheridan Lyons

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