Lawsuit settles industry’s 2016 methane leak contaminating citizen water wells and Mahomet Aquifer, Illinois’ largest freshwater source. Judge’s order requires four relief wells to try to remove the gas. In Alberta, AER still has not ordered Encana/Ovintiv to fix the company’s illegal fracs into Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers 20 years ago.

Illinois AG, Peoples Gas settle lawsuit over 2016 leak that reached Mahomet Aquifer by Mary Schenk, June 29, 2022, The News-Gazette

URBANA — A Champaign County judge has approved an agreement between the state of Illinois and People’s Gas Light and Coke Company that resolves a 5-year-old lawsuit stemming from a natural-gas leak that reached the drinking-water supply for Central Illinois.

A release from Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul said the consent order was entered Tuesday by Judge Brett Olmstead and resolves a lawsuit filed by his predecessor, Lisa Madigan, against the utility in October 2017.

The suit came in response to a 2016 natural-gas leak at Peoples Gas’ Manlove Field underground storage facility near Fisher that reached the Mahomet Aquifer, the largest freshwater source in Illinois, and nearby residents’ private wells.

The consent order requires Peoples Gas to implement a “groundwater management zone” approved by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. That involves the operation of four new relief wells to remove methane from the aquifer.

Methane is a major component of natural gas. Although non-toxic, it is flammable, and in high amounts can cause asphyxiation in enclosed spaces.

After Encana/Ovintiv intentionally illegally frac’d directly into Rosebud Alberta’s drinking water aquifers, the community water reservoir blew up from an accumulation of gases seriously injuring the municipal water manager. Testing by the water regulator found 30 to 66 mg/l in resident water wells. A Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP)’s study (cover of it above), reported risk of explosion at 1 mg/l of methane in water if it passes a confined space.

Later testing by the water regulator withheld from Debbie Signer, a Redland resident harmed by Encana’s illegal frac operations, showed concentrations of methane at 110 mg/l in her water.

Numerous toxic man-made chemicals used in frac’ing were also found by the regulator in Rosebud’s drinking water.

Authorities, including AER, the Alberta gov’t and Research Council (now Alberta Innovates), CAPP and Encana/Ovintiv, fudged historic water well data that stated no gas present and fudged investigation testing data to blame nature and water well owners because we’re dirty.

The federal and provincial gov’ts and Wheatland County (but of course not the guilty frac’er) spent millions of Canadian tax payer dollars to pipeline safe alternate water from Calgary to Gleichen (fracs there intentionally into the aquifer at 80 metre below ground surface), Rockyford (numerous water wells there also contaminated after nearby shallow frac’ing), Standard, Redland and Rosebud. About 100 km of water line and associated infrastructure was installed.

Private water well owners outside these communities but also living frac’d with explosive contamination in their wells, including me, did not receive safe alternate water.

2006 Photo by Colin Smith: Ernst’s drinking water after Encana/Ovintiv illegally frac’d the Rosebud drinking water aquifers

I continue to drive 45 minutes one way (expensive at today’s gas prices and very time wasting and annoying) to haul replacement water, no thanks to Encana or the Alberta gov’t. I am a senior living alone; hauling water is a physically demanding task.

No authority is tracking the contamination in my drinking water.

Peoples Gas is also required to conduct periodic sampling to track the extent of the release of methane and measure the progress to mitigate it through the relief wells. That has to continue until the state EPA agrees that the company has met the cleanup goals.

Following that milestone, Peoples Gas then has to do at least three more years of monitoring to ensure that the methane remains within approved levels. And what are those “approved” levels and who approves them? Industry? Less than 1 mg/l as reported by CAPP being a risk of explosion? Every time another community aquifer has been contaminated by industry’s leaking methane, authorities deregulated and increased the concentration that puts families and communities at risk of explosion, from 1 mg/l to 3 mg/l to 7 mg/l to 27 mg/l. Up and up it goes, as more and more industrially contaminated communities blow up and the explosive industry gases in aquifers increase in deadly concentraion.

The most recent in Canada being Wheatley Ontario (a few photos above, more at link below) contaminated with industry’s deadly sour gas, blowing up, destroying businesses and injuring many. Years later, the problem at Wheatley is not yet solved and likely never will be.

“This consent order will ensure that Peoples Gas is held accountable for cleaning up the gas release and required to provide residents access to safe drinking water,” Raoul said. “My office will continue to work diligently to protect Illinois residents from contamination that threatens public health and the environment.”

As for households affected by the leak, Peoples Gas has agreed to offer water-treatment systems, bottled water, in-home gas-monitoring devices and ongoing water monitoring to any household with a high level of methane as identified by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Albertan Bruce Jack and two industry gas-in-water testers blew up and were seriously injured when Jack’s drinking water (contaminated with industry’s leaking methane and ethane) blew up – after the water regulator’s recommended gas venting treatment system was installed! Such systems, although expensive and impressive looking, do not make gas contaminated water safe – the gas has to enter them and be vented out, putting residents living with such systems always at risk, as long as the water/aquifer is contaminated. Companies in Alberta have admitted publicly that industry-caused methane leaks are difficult to completely stop, expensive to fix, a “big problem.”

State health agency acting Director Amaal Tokars called the consent order a “significant win for the health and safety of central Illinois residents whose drinking-water wells have been affected by natural gas and demonstrates our commitment to working with our sister agencies to protect the environment.”

The consent order calls for Peoples Gas to pay $575,000 in civil penalties and make payments of $150,000 to the Illinois EPA, $25,000 to the state health department, $225,000 to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and $175,000 to the Prairie Research Institute at the University of Illinois. Who pays the legal and court costs? I bet the citizenry pays most of it, as usual.

Affected residents who want more information can contact Barb Lieberoff at the Illinois EPA office at 217-524-3038 or email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Refer also to:

Communities/families blowing up, with fatalities and serious injuries, from industry’s leaking methane (aka “natural” gas) included in the cross references in this post:

2021: Frac’ing Ontario? Wheatley (thermogenic corrosive) sour gas explosion injures 20, destroys two buildings, more, many families displaced. Still leaking, area remains at risk of more explosions like Hutchinson Kansas where two were killed in their home from industry’s leaking gas migrating 7 miles. Chatham-Kent top administrator, Don Shropshire: “Our area has hundreds, if not thousands of abandoned gas wells. They stretch from Niagara Peninsula to Windsor.” Also exploded from industry’s gas 85 years ago. The community must be relocated. But, where?

2021 New evil low (copying the UK?): Ontario turns H2S gas well into water well to make citizen pay (up to $900,000.00) to plug it. What will investors, insurance and finance think of this crass oil & gas industry-enabling fraud by authorities?

Industry and its enabling regulators and courts know how deadly methane, ethane, propane, butane, pentane leaks are. “Natural” gas was named as it was for a reason – to blame nature for industry’s crimes and murders by methane (companies and regulators usually know when oilfield facilities, wells and or fracs are forcing explosive gases into people’s homes, businesses and water supplies, but keep them secret to keep raping profits).

The oil and gas industry’s leaking methane problems are so common and severe, the Alberta regulator’s outside legal counsel, Glenn Solomon, advised a frac-harmed family that settlements and gag orders are how companies get to keep polluting drinking water supplies again and again, community after community, “down the street.”

AER’s outside counsel in Ernst lawsuit, Glenn Solomon of Calgary Law Firm JSS Barristers

Community water reservoirs blowing up injuring water managers be damned: Investigators say an accumulation of gases appears to have caused the explosion that destroyed the Rosebud water tower and sent a Wheatland County employee to hospital

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