Gasoline and automobile service stations are a significant source of soil, groundwater, and drinking water contamination throughout New York and New Jersey. Gas stations in New Jersey have a history of using steel tanks to contain gasoline that is sold commercially or made available for sale to the public. These tanks, often stored several feet underground, can develop small holes that grow over time. The piping systems between storage tanks and dispensing equipment can also become a pathway for pollutants to escape, whether because of defective components or deterioration. Spills and overfills during refilling of storage tanks is another way that gasoline is released into the environment from service stations. Automobile service stations can also be source of contamination from chlorinated solvents, like TCE and PCE, which have historically been used for degreasing metal parts.
Gasoline can be spilled above ground or released from compromised underground tanks and piping into the surrounding soil and can seep further into the ground where it may impact the groundwater. Once in the groundwater, the gasoline and its chemical constituents can travel—sometimes great distances—and can ultimately impact the water that individuals and communities use for drinking. Contamination of drinking water by gasoline and its chemical constituents is, unfortunately, a normal occurrence in New Jersey because of the large number of gas stations and storage tanks in this densely populated state. When gasoline components have impacted groundwater, these chemicals can volatilize and rise upward from the ground in a gas phase and enter buildings that sit above the contaminated groundwater. This process, known as vapor intrusion, may have harmful effects on those who live or work in the affected buildings or structures.
Gasoline contains many chemicals including BTEX, which stands for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes. These chemicals are some of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) found in petroleum derivatives, such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and heating oil. In addition to BTEX, gasoline also contains additives such as MTBE and ethanol. MTBE (methyl tertiary butyl ether) has been regarded as a suspected carcinogen by the federal government and its use has been banned in many places. Unfortunately, in part because of the frequency of gasoline stations leaks, MTBE was already widely present in groundwater through the United States before its use was banned.
Many of the BTEX compounds are also dangerous and represent significant health concerns. Benzene, for example, is regarded as a known human carcinogen, and long-term exposure to high levels of benzene may result in leukemia, a cancer of blood-forming organs.
New Jersey is densely populated, and it is common for individuals to live or work close to gas stations or other sources of leaks and spills that can impact the environment. Gasoline constituents like BTEX, MTBE, and lead can be very difficult to clean once groundwater or drinking water has been contaminated. Methods of addressing this form of contamination range from natural attenuation to on-site treatment systems which can be both expensive to run and vary in terms of efficiency. Even when adequate systems have been installed, they can easily malfunction if not properly maintained. It is therefore very important that individuals who have been impacted by contamination from a gas station ensure that their legal rights are fully protected, even if they believe that the problem is being cleaned up.
If you believe that you have suffered injury or financial damage because of gasoline or other hazardous chemicals, or if you fear that pollution in your community may be affecting your health or the value of your property, you should take action immediately. Contact our team of environmental lawyers who will fight for you and your family. Our staff is courteous and responsive, our attorneys are knowledgeable and highly-trained, and our results provide lasting relief to people in need. Call now: 732-355-1311 or submit your case inquiry here.
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