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Bureau of Geology team develops containment system to prevent spills

Three New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources researchers have developed an innovative containment system to prevent contamination of ground water from industrial spills that commonly occur around gas stations and storage tank facilities throughout the world. Mike Whitworth, a chemical hydrogeologist, collaborated on the development of the new system with co-inventors David Love, a senior environmental geologist, and managing editor Jane Calvert Love. The three-dimensional liner is the only one currently available that can prevent ground-water contamination from all four of the most common sources of contamination from underground storage tanks: surface spills and overfills; underground storage tank leaks; piping failures; and faulty installations. "The spill prevention system contains no moving parts, yet can be used to remediate spills captured by the liner. In fact, the system can easily separate and remove as little as one pint of gasoline from as much as 200,000 gallons of water," Whitworth points out. "It is also completely flood proof and is unaffected by rising ground-water levels" he adds. "Versions of this spill prevention system can be installed for surface tanks, or at tank farms and pipeline pumping stations, as well," Whitworth says, "and, in some cases without disturbing existing tanks or equipment while it protects the ground water." New Mexico Tech has filed a patent application on the spill prevention system and is currently offering licensing arrangements.