From the press release:
An underground natural gas storage facility operated by Peoples Gas leaked gas into the freshwater Mahomet Aquifer and contaminated the drinking wells for at least five area families, according to a Notice of Violation issued by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Spiros Law represents several of these families and will hold an informational meeting on Monday, October 16th at 6:00 p.m. at the Newcomb Township Hall, located at 355 County Road 2700 North, Mahomet (Route 47 and County Road 2700 North in rural Mahomet).
“The concentration of gas contaminating the freshwater Mahomet Aquifer is so high in some places that kitchen sink water was flammable,” said James Spiros of Spiros Law. (Click here for video of one Mahomet family’s drinking water being set on fire) “Some of our clients still do not have access to uncontaminated drinking water even though Peoples Gas has supposedly been working on the problem for over 9 months now. We are still investigating the extent of the contamination caused by the gas leak but this is a very serious and ongoing problem directly affecting the freshwater Mahomet Aquifer and at least five families who rely on it for their drinking water.”
According to the DNR’s Notice of Violation, which was issued on September 14, 2017: “Gas has made its way into the freshwater aquifer affecting 5 freshwater wells in the area.” Also, that the DNR has ordered Peoples Gas to complete “remedial actions necessary to prevent the loss of recoverable gas and abate damage to fresh water and property” within thirty days. (Click here to view DNR’s Notice of Violation)
According to information from Peoples Gas, it first discovered the leak when one of its employees noticed natural gas at the ground surface near one of its wells on December 6, 2016 but the leak wasn’t stopped until December 8, 2016. The well was ultimately plugged with concrete on December 16, 2016 and abandoned. 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. 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.
The leak occurred at an underground gas storage facility owned by Peoples Gas, known as the L. McCord No. 2 well, located on Route 47 just south of County Road 2800 North in rural Mahomet. Most of the residential homes in the area rely upon well water drawn from the freshwater Mahomet Aquifer. Though Peoples Gas has disclosed its leak contaminated five area drinking wells it is unclear at this time how many area wells were actually tested.
“Due to the large amount and high concentration of gas leaked into the Aquifer we doubt Peoples Gas will be able to remedy the situation anytime soon,” said Matthew Duco of Spiros Law. “As such, our clients felt it was their duty to inform their neighbors about the current status of the contamination in addition to the serious safety concerns associated with such a large leak of concentrated natural gas. For example, many folks don’t realize that natural gas is actually odorless and difficult to detect because a chemical odorant is added to it prior to consumer delivery that creates the sour smell we all immediately associate with the gas delivered to our homes. The Peoples Gas well that leaked into the aquifer was storing highly concentrated gas that is essentially odorless as it was not yet treated with the safety odorant.”
The L. McCord No. 2 well was completed in 1978 and is just one of many wells that form part of Manlove Field, a natural gas storage facility with a capacity to store 150 billion cubic feet of natural gas located in Champaign County owned and run by Peoples Gas. According to Peoples Gas, Manlove Field stores natural gas in sedimentary rocks in the deep aquifer underlying approximately 27,500 acres of mostly residential and farmland property. (Click here for a map of gas stored at Manlove Field & the L. McCord No. 2 well; click here for a map of Manlove Field & all wells)
“Our investigation is still ongoing but we will do our best to answer any questions at the informational meeting,” Duco said. “Additionally, we have set up a website that we will keep updated with current information at MahometGasLeak.com.”