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China is now the second biggest MTBE producer in the world, second only to the US.
MTBE has been a trusted antiknock agent for decades, and Bio-MTBE possesses the same technical advantages as its conventional counterpart: high energy density (86 percent of gasoline), low vapor pressure, low oxygen content, and very low solubility in water.
Scientists detected MTBE in untreated groundwater from 18 percent of the public supply wells and 9 percent of the private wells tested.
that MTBE is a product that easily contaminates groundwater because it can escape even tight underground storage tanks, spreads far and fast in underground aquifers and resists cleanup.
MTBE is one of a group of chemicals commonly known as "oxygenates" because they raise the oxygen content of gasoline, and therefore increase its octane number and reduce automotive emissions, such as carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
The institute also points out that MTBE can be blended with gasoline at the refinery and shipped by pipeline, while ethanol cannot be blended in a refinery and must be shipped to the local distribution terminals and "splash-blended" with gasoline.
MTBE - methyl tertiary butyl ether - was added to gasoline beginning in 1979 to cut air pollution.
The action is a huge victory for the National League of Cities, which worked fiercely over the past two years on behalf of cities and towns across America to protect their rights to seek damages for clean up of drinking water sources that have been contaminated by MTBE.
MTBE was the second most common volatile organic compound detected in wells monitored in urban areas nationwide between 1985 and 1995 (Clawges et al.
That area, known as a source of pure well water, originally detected trace amounts of MTBE in 13 of its 34 drinking water wells in 1996.
Liability for MTBE pollution is a matter of considerable moment for oil refiners, who currently face 140 different lawsuits over the additive and have reason to expect hundreds more.
Manufacturers and gasoline companies argue that there is no evidence that MTBE poses a significant risk, either to the environment or to people's health, but their own documents reveal that the industry has known otherwise for decades.
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