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Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what the results were of the latest research by the Environment Agency into the incidence of methyl tertiary butyl ether in England and Wales; and if she will make a statement; [113283](2) what the results were of the full life cycle risk assessment of methyl tertiary butyl ether under the European Communities Existing Substances Regulation (793/93/EEC); and if she will make a statement. [113282]

Finland carried out the full life cycle risk assessment of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) under the Existing Substances Regulation (793/93/EEC). All Member States were represented in the group of technical experts and the Competent Authority for existing substances that discussed and finalised the risk assessment for MTBE.The risk assessment concluded that there were concerns for the aquatic environment and groundwater (potability in respect of taste and odour) as a consequence of exposure arising from the release of MTBE to surface water from leaking storage tanks and spillage from over filling of the storage tanks.The Environment Agency is looking to improve our groundwater quality by the monitoring of oxygenates including MTBE where this is merited by risk of contamination.The occupational risk identified is controlled to the extent needed by legislation currently in force at Community level.The Environment Agency's review on the presence and behaviour of MTBE in England and Wales was published in November 2000 and a copy was deposited in the Library of the House at the time. The Environment Agency intends to produce a short followup report on MTBE incidence but it will take a little time to compile. A copy will be made available to the Library of the House as soon as possible. I will write to let my hon. Friend know when that is.