After 3 years, Minden ready to test well |

After 3 years, Minden ready to test well

by Sheila Gardner

Minden’s oldest well, shut down in 1997 by the threat of MTBE, will be tested next week to determine if any trace of the cancer-causing fuel additive contaminated the town’s water supply.

Town officials met Friday with state environmental representatives and a consultant for Dave Mills, owner of the Minden Beacon gas station, which was targeted nearly three years ago as the source of the methyl tertiary butyl ether leak.

“We’re moving ahead, the well will be pumped,” said Bruce Scott, engineer for the town.

The well, which has been providing water to the community since 1929, was shut off after a leak was found at the Minden Beacon station near the well. No trace of MTBE was ever found in the water, but the well was turned off until the leak could be fixed and the spill cleaned up.

Mills estimated Friday that he has spent more than $300,000 to fix the leak. He has been reimbursed $122,000 from the Nevada Petroleum Fund, which pays for part of the cleanup expenses.

Mills said that he is filing a lawsuit next week against Toms Sierra Nevada of Colfax, Calif., his former gasoline supplier, who he says installed a faulty blend valve in the station’s gas tanks. Mills also intends to take legal action against Apex, an environmental consultant to Toms Sierra.

Mills, who has been in business in Minden for nearly 30 years, said he is happy the well is to be tested.

“I am very happy that everybody is finally ready to put the bullet in the chamber of the gun. I am glad everybody is not afraid to fire it because I know from the bottom of my heart that there is nothing in that well,” Mills said.

The test will be conducted in a controlled area and if the water is contaminated, the well will be shut off immediately.

“We are taking every precaution that the numbers are well below the national standards for water,” said Bob Hadfield, chairman of the Minden Town Board. “We wouldn’t be doing this if we thought we were creating a liability. It appears the remedial activities are working and we will be able to bring the well on line.”

Scott said Minden hopes to have the well working in May, in advance of the town’s peak summer water use.

“Everybody is hopeful that the well will prove to be clean,” Scott said. “We have no reason to expect otherwise.”

He said the well will be carefully monitored at next week’s test. If the water is clean and the well is put in operation, the water will be checked for at least one year by the state.

“The town will be sensitive forever about this issue,” Scott said.

Hadfield said he wanted to assure residents that the well won’t be turned on until the water proved safe.

“We just want to bring this issue to resolution,” Hadfield said. “We hope it will close this chapter. This has been so difficult because we are talking about business people in our community who only have the best interest of the town at stake. It’s been a difficult process for Dave.

“There has been a lot of concern and confusion related to exactly what has happened in that general area of town,” Hadfield said.

The town’s four other wells have handled the community’s water needs, but officials want to be able to put well No. 1 back in service. The well is located near the station on Highway 395 between the C.O.D. Motor Co. and the original Bently Nevada Corp. headquarters.