HEALTH Reommends Reduced Use of Pascoag Water MTBE Contamination Levels Contine to Rise

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September 17, 2001 Date: September 17, 2001 Time: 5:11 p.m. Contact: June Swallow (401) 639-6451 News Release Department of Health HEALTH Recommends Reduced Use of Pascoag Water MTBE Contamination Levels Continue to Rise


The RI Department of Health (HEALTH) recommends that customers of the Pascoag Water System take further actions to conserve water and reduce exposures to the drinking water contaminant, MTBE.


Levels of MTBE in Pascoag wells climbed from 340 ppb (parts per billion) on September 1, 2001, to approximately 600 ppb as of September 17, 2001. In response, HEALTH recommends that Pascoag customers continue to use bottled water for drinking, cooking and food preparation. As an additional precaution, HEALTH advises customers to adopt the following guidelines:


Reduce the time spent in the shower or bath

Ventilate bathrooms with exhaust or window fans

Give sponge baths to children who may swallow bath water

Reduce overall water use


HEALTH encourages Pascoag residents to wash clothes at laundromats, whenever possible, and use water conservation devices on showers and toilets. Outdoor water uses should be curtailed.


Reductions in the levels of MTBE could occur later this week when the connection between the Pascoag and Harrisville water systems is expected to be complete. Harrisville will provide about 100,000 gallons of water per day, approximately 30% of the water needed by Pascoag. While this measure will reduce exposure to MTBE, the water will remain unsafe for drinking and cooking.


Late last week the Department of Environmental Management released a report citing two possible sources of the MTBE contamination in the Pascoag Water System. On September 13, 2001, an immediate compliance order was issued to Main Street Mobil at 24 North Main Street in Pascoag to investigate and remediate leaking petroleum from underground storage tanks at the station.


Seven inches of gasoline, with high concentrations of MTBE, were discovered earlier in September in a recently installed groundwater monitoring well located within approximately 20 feet from Main Street Mobil’s underground storage tanks. The company has five tanks registered with DEM, three of which store gasoline. Each tank has a capacity of 6,000 gallons.


Under the compliance order, Robert L Laverdiere and Mary Ellen Laverdiere, owners of Pascoag Main Street Service, and Potter Oil, Inc., which operates the station, were immediately to assume full responsibility for all on-site and off-site investigation and remedial activities relating to the facility’s underground storage tanks; within 24 hours engage a qualified environmental consultant or contractor to oversee the work; within 72 hours perform leak detection “precision” testing on the facility’s three gasoline underground storage tank systems and immediately empty any questionable tanks; and investigate the extent of subsurface contamination and remediate the site.


As of today, Pascoag Water System has not been informed of the results of this compliance order. However, Pascoag Utility District is investigating the possibility of obtaining an immediate restraining order against the Laverdiere’s and Potter Oil. As recently as Friday, September 14, 2001, gasoline is still being delivered to the site on North Main Street.


A second immediate compliance order was issued to the Town of Burrillville to evaluate the effectiveness of an ongoing remediation of a leaking underground storage tank site at its public works garage at 65 Union Avenue and take action to correct any deficiencies , for treat gastroesophageal reflux disease see The Town of Burrillville has been involved in investigation and cleanup activities at its public works garage since gasoline was discovered when underground tanks were removed several years ago.


Pascoag Water Department is committed to keeping its customers informed and up-to-date on the MTBE issue. We appreciate your continued understanding.

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