Environment: Toxic Trade?

A Canadian chemical firm says California's pollution controls violate NAFTA rules

In Santa Monica, a beach town known for its movie stars, the sun shines almost every day, palm trees sway on the boulevards--and the groundwater is poisoned. All over town, ugly drilling rigs mounted on trucks are boring 300-foot holes to trace the plumes of a pollutant that has leaked from the underground tanks of gasoline stations. The culprit: methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), an additive that makes gasoline burn cleaner but one the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has classified as a potential carcinogen. Half of Santa Monica's water supply is undrinkable--MTBE makes water taste like turpentine--and the city (pop. 85,000)...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!