Leaking underground storage tanks (LUST) of gasoline have contaminated at least 25,000 sites around Florida, giving rise to concerns that the state’s drinking water supplies could be tainted, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Scientists say the contamination is a result of Florida’s love affair with gas; the state ranks third, after California and Texas, in gas consumption, burning nearly 20 million gallons per day. Only California has more leak sites than Florida, but Florida’s leaks pose a graver threat to drinking water. The DEP said that some 17 million Floridians drink water from public wells within a half-mile of leaking gas tanks. Last year, the state spent $151 million to expedite cleanups of contaminated sites, but a huge backlog remains. “We’re going to be cleaning up gasoline contamination for the next 20 years or longer,” said Michael Ashey, chief of the Bureau of Petroleum Storage Systems for the environmental agency.
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