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E-M:/ what that $70 million for cleanup was meant to solve



PIERSON -- More than three years after gasoline was reported leaking from 6,000-gallon tanks beneath the Pierson Mobil station, tests of neighbors' drinking water confirmed the state's worst fears. A "probable" human carcinogen and other chemicals associated with gasoline had seeped into residential wells just a few hundred yards away.
Neighbors in the rural community near Whitefish Lake wonder how long they drank contaminated water without knowing it. They blame the gas station owner and the state.
"They didn't do anything to protect us," said Anthony Rozanski, whose contaminated well was one of five replaced by the state.
He said he didn't learn about the contamination until tests revealed trace amounts of a carcinogen in his well water -- three years after the gas station reported the leak to the state.
He lives next door to the station and is left to wonder how bad his water really was. His 29-year-old daughter died last month of cancer; three family dogs also have died of cancer since 1998.
(snip)
State officials said their response to leaks will likely get worse -- leading to more potential groundwater pollution and threats to drinking water -- after the state Legislature in June helped balance the budget by taking $70 million from a clean-up fund. The fund comes from a 7/8-cent-per-gallon fee on gasoline.
The state has a separate $45 million clean-up fund, but that's for leaks discovered before 1994. Pierson Mobil doesn't qualify.
"It creates a situation where we're going to have more and more sites where we know we have a problem, but we can't do anything to address it," said Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Robert McCann.

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