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Woodbine family files MTBE lawsuit

The Baltimore Sun

A Woodbine family whose drinking water was polluted with the gasoline additive MTBE has filed suit against a neighboring 7-Eleven gas station, contending that leaks from underground fuel tanks contaminated their well.

When Michael and Hope Harrison purchased their Woodbine home in April 2004, they were told the house's well was contaminant-free, according to court documents. When tested in 2002, one of the four drinking water wells servicing the 7-Eleven store, in the 7600 block of Woodbine Road, had showed MTBE levels at 4,255 parts per billion.

MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, is a suspected carcinogen that adds an odor and taste to water in concentrations of 20 to 40 parts per billion, according to state environmental officials.

The Harrisons, who live on the same block as the 7-Eleven, have had to truck water in and installed six carbon filter tanks at their home, according to court documents.

In July 2006, a sample from their unfiltered well water contained about 2,000 parts per billion of MTBE, documents state. Consuming the water has caused the family gastrointestinal problems and skin irritations, according to court documents.

The Harrisons are represented by Mary V. Koch, an attorney with Orioles owner Peter Angelos' law firm. The firm also is representing Fallston residents in a class action MTBE contamination suit against Exxon Mobil Corp.

The Harrisons' suit against 7-Eleven was filed in Carroll County Circuit Court and made available to the public Tuesday.

Michael and Hope Harrison, and their daughter, April Matlock, who lives at the same Woodbine address, are seeking more than $100,000 each in damages.

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