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31K Gallons of Jet Fuel Leaked from Pipeline, Officials Estimate

Palos Park commissioners commended the response to the Aug. 27 leak.

It took less than a minute to stop the flow of kerosene jet fuel through a buried pipeline .

Even with the quick cut off, an estimated 750 barrels or more than 31,000 gallons of kerosene jet fuel drained out from , with as much as 500 gallons reaching the nearby waterway.

This information was presented by representatives of the companies that own and operate the pipeline to Monday night.

Village commissioners praised the joint effort of the West Shore Pipe Line Company working with federal, state and local governmental officials to and the company's continuing work to remove the saturated soil. Crews have worked 24 hours a day for the last two weeks testing, digging and removing the kerosene saturated soil.

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Palos Park has hired an outside consultant to review testing data provided by West Shore. Commissioners said they understand that the company has its own priorities when it comes to the cleanup and that they want to ensure the village residents interests are also protected. Darryl Reed, building & public property commissioner, offered the idea of the company going "above and beyond" the minimum standards set by state and federal environmental protection agencies in the wake of the leak.

"What we're asking for over here is maybe something above those minimum standards," Reed said. The company would have the chance to exceed the standards set for the frequency testing of air quality and nearby wells "for the comfort of the residents."

Testing showed fumes haven't reached toxic levels surrounding the leak site, said Patrick Hodgins of Texas-based Buckeye Partners, which operates the line for West Shore.

Local residents who spoke raised concerns about the environmental and health impacts of the kerosene.

Christine Hynes, a Palos Park resident who lives close to the site of the leak, said that just last week she was able to smell an odor of fuel stronger than even what she smelled the first day. She said she wanted to see frequent testing of nearby wells and the air quality.

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The investigation into what caused the "release" is ongoing, company officials said. The cleanup is expected to take weeks to complete. Crews are testing soil for traces of the fuel and are continuing to remove any contaminated dirt until testing results come back negative.

A representative of the US Environmental Protection Agency has been on site since the beginning and will remain until the remediation is complete. The site will then go into a monitoring phase to check for the possible spread of contaminants, during which a representative of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will take over.

The US Coast Guard reopened the Cal Sag Channel about a day after the leak. A "hard boom" was used to hold back the spread of fuel on the surface of the water, officials said.

An initial estimate put the number of barrels officials thought had leaked at 1,000, officials said. That number dropped to 400-500 barrels before it was revised up. The exact number won't be known until the line is running again.

Fuel spread north from Cal Sag Road and away from residential areas and underground wells used for irrigation, officials said. A nearby ditch and culvert fed some of the fuel into the waterway.

"I think the Village of Palos Park and its residents got quite lucky," said Village Manager Richard Boehm. The ditch contained water from recent rains, which "carried the fuel spill away from residents. It didn't allow it to soak in or transfer to the south side of Route 83."

As contaminated soil is removed, new dirt is brought in as back fill. Kerosene soaked soil is being hauled to a landfill.

"We going to make it right," Hodgins said.

  • West Shore Pipe Line has established a claims center hotline for anyone who believes they have been affected by the spill. Individuals can contact the claims center between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT using the hotline at 866-837-5016.
  • West Shore Pipe Line Company has launched a public website with information about the Palos Park, IL release, the company’s ongoing remediation efforts and important contact information: www.badgerpipelineresponse.com

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bob busch September 11, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Out of sight The physical scars of this pipeline breech are being fixed. But what about the emotional scars? I am sure most residents weren’t even aware that pipe was there let alone what it carried. That is not the only pipeline in Palos. There are massive ones running under the power lines lines along 131st .At least that company has sent me warnings and plans to follow in case of emergency .This seems to have come out of the blue .
jason September 12, 2012 at 04:36 AM
there are plenty of signs say petroleum line

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