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Leaking gasoline station tanks throughout New Jersey are a significant source of groundwater and drinking water contamination in both of these states. 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. Gasoline can be released through these holes 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 these densely populated states.
Gasoline contains many chemicals including BTEX, which is shorthand for several compounds, and 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, has been 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.
Of course, gasoline stations are not the only sources of these chemicals. Many industrial applications of these chemicals can result in damage to the environment and harm to people and communities.
These chemicals can impact the air, groundwater and drinking water and have a long-lasting impact on people and communities that are exposed to the contamination. Contamination from gasoline stations can enter the groundwater and travel distances short or long, thereby affecting homes, businesses and water supplies in its path. The chemical components of gasoline that has impacted groundwater can rise up 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.
In addition to MTBE and BTEX compounds, gasoline sold in New Jersey at one point contained lead. Exposure to lead may result in significant neurological problems to both children and adults. Lead-containing gasoline that has been released into the groundwater poses another drinking water hazard to nearby residences and businesses in cases where an unsuspecting public consumes drinking water that has been contaminated.
BTEX, MTBE, ethanol 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 filters to different kinds of 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. New Jersey is densely populated, and it is common for individuals to live or work within one or two miles of a gas station or other source of leaks and spills that can impact the environment. Individuals who have dirty drinking water or contaminated drinking water as a result of gasoline station releases need to ensure that their legal rights are fully protected.
The environmental lawyers at Lieberman & Blecher have substantial experience litigating cases that involve contaminated from leaking gasoline stations and other sources. We help protect people exposed to gasoline, benzene, BTEX, MTBE, and other chemicals. Our toxic exposure attorneys filed one of the first MTGBE litigations in New Jersey, and perhaps the nation, over ten years ago. Since then, we have litigated numerous cases that involve exposure to all types of chemicals and releases from gasoline stations and other sources in New Jersey. Our firm is familiar with the nation’s finest experts in the areas of environmental contamination (including BTEX contamination, benzene contamination, MTBE contamination, lead contamination, gasoline contamination). We have assembled winning litigation teams that have achieved lasting results for our clients.
New Jersey residents who are affected by contamination from gasoline stations and other sources need legal representation by lawyers who understand the business practices that result in contamination, who know the science, and who have a long history of experience in the environmental law arena. Lieberman & Blecher has a team of environmental lawyers who do exactly this, and can help to protect the legal rights of people and communities exposed to toxic chemicals from gasoline stations and other sources throughout New Jersey.