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Hazardous Gas Leak Threatens Mahomet Aquifer

The health of naturally disinfecting aquifers is critical to families relying on well water as their primary water supply. Spiros Law, P.C. has recently discovered an urgent threat to the citizens of Mahomet, Illinois. We hope that you were able to join us at our informational meeting where we discussed this issue. If you were unable to attend we are welcoming calls from any concerned citizens that have questions. Here are some of the documents we reviewed at the information meeting. We will continue updating this page as we receive more information.

*Update 10/27/2017:  Starting the week of October 30th, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will start testing the water wells located around the L. McCord #2 gas well. The testing will start with 40 homes and expand as needed until the entire affected area can be determined.

A natural gas leak has contaminated drinking water for citizens relying on the Mahomet Aquifer. Peoples Gas owns an underground natural gas storage facility and one of its storage wells failed and leaked gas that has migrated into the freshwater Mahomet Aquifer. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has issued a Notice of Violation.

According to information from Peoples Gas, the leak was first discovered when one of its employees noticed natural gas at the ground surface near one of its wells on December 6, 2016. Peoples Gas claims the leak was stopped two days later, on December 8, and the well was sealed with concrete and abandoned on December 16. It is unknown at this time exactly how long the leak went unnoticed or how much gas leaked into the freshwater Mahomet Aquifer and surrounding soil during the timeframe the leak was undiscovered.

At least five wells have been contaminated by the gas leak; a map of the affected wells can be  viewed here. The five properties known to have contaminated drinking water are in various geographic directions from the breached gas well, indicating that a large area of the Mahomet Aquifer may be affected. In some places, the amount of concentrated gas is enough to set the water coming out of a kitchen sink on fire.

Peoples Gas claims to have been working on a solution for over nine months now, but apparently, their endeavors have been largely unsuccessful. Our investigation is ongoing, and professionals are already working on behalf of these families to get every answer possible. With the large amount of contamination and high concentrations already discovered, it is unlikely that this unfortunate calamity will resolve itself anytime soon.

As of Friday, October 20th, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against Peoples Gas due to the contamination of the Mahomet Aquifer which has, so far, impacted five residential water wells.

The complaint and motion for preliminary injunction order was filed in Champaign County Circuit Court against Peoples Gas for a natural gas leak at the company’s underground natural gas storage facility. This injunction order will require Peoples to identify the cause of the leak and ensure residents have access to safe drinking water.

According to the complaint, “Peoples Gas failed to meet its obligation to act in the best interest of residents by immediately evaluating the extent of the contamination and taking steps to stop its spread,” Madigan said. “This order is intended to ensure that residents have access to safe drinking water while the company addresses the longer-term cleanup.”

Under this order, Peoples Gas must immediately work to find the cause of the natural gas leak and provide safe drinking water to the impacted residents. They are also responsible for installing gas monitoring devices.

The Mahomet Aquifer supplies drinking water to over 850,000 people. The well was located on Route 47, just south of County Road 2800 North, in rural Mahomet. If you are in the area, feel free to come out and learn about how this might affect you and your family.

If you live in the Mahomet area and have well water, you should be checking your water to make sure you don’t see any of the signs that methane gas may have contaminated your water well. Some of the signs include:

Natural gas is clear and odorless. The typical rotten-egg smell associated with natural gas is a chemical odorant added as a safety measure before the gas is distributed. Unpleasant smells help consumers quickly identify a leak, but the gas from this well was not treated with this chemical odorant yet.

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