Date of Award

12-2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Ecology and Environmental Sciences

Advisor

Jonathan Rubin

Second Committee Member

Kathleen P. Bell

Third Committee Member

Jean MacRae

Abstract

MtBE is a common component of reformulated gasoline (RFG), and is one of the most detected contaminants found in groundwater nationwide. It is of great concern in Maine and across the U.S. because MtBE is highly soluble, does not degrade readily, and the. extent of health effects is still unknown. In response to numerous cases of MtBE contamination, Maine opted out of the reformulated gasoline (RFG) program in 1999, and reduced concentrations of MtBE in gasoline from ~15% to 2% by volume to protect water resources. Groundwater samples collected across Windham, Maine over a period of six years (1998-2003), during which time no large gasoline spills were reported, revealed that MtBE is still detectable despite Maine's decision to opt out of the RFG program in 1999. Although current detected concentrations are lower than in previous years, this study confirms MtBE's temporal and spatial persistence in the environment. Reducing MtBE concentrations in gasoline is not sufficient to eliminate its occurrence in groundwater. RFG containing MtBE increases the cost of ground water remediation, as compared to conventional gasoline. Spill cost and spill characteristic data were collected and analyzed to determine whether reducing MtBE concentration in gasoline has affected remediation costs. Results reveal that there is no significant change in the cost of remediation before Maine opted into the RFG program, during the RFG program, and after the RFG program.

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