Denmark targets MTBE sites for remediation

Next round of old petrol retailing site clean-ups to focus on probable MTBE contamination

The Danish oil industry, in cooperation with government and local authorities, has decided for the first time to focus its next annual round of clean-ups of former petrol stations on 463 sites thought to be contaminated by the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), the environmental protection authority (EPA) announced yesterday.

Former petrol station sites in general, and MTBE in particular, have become a big political issue in Denmark because of the pollution threat they pose to ground water. Denmark depends more than any other European country on this source for drinking water. Earlier this year, the industry committed itself to phasing out MTBE while hinting that it would also push for an EU-wide ban (ENDS Daily 17 August).

Ernst Lassen of the Danish oil industry's Association for Remediation of Retail Sites (OM) told ENDS Daily today: "We have been working on sites requiring investigation and possibly remediation since 1993, and have finished about 2,500. There are still about 7,000 left, and we can only manage 5-600 a year at the most. So this process of choosing priorities is very important."

According to the EPA, all 10,000 sites thought to have been used for retail petrol sales will have been studied and where necessary cleaned up by 2010, at an average cost to the industry of DKr350,000 (euros 47,000) per site. Almost DKr1bn has already been spent on the project.

Follow Up:
Danish EPA, tel: +45 32 66 01 00; OM, +45 33 14 73 70.

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