Leak from Barrington gas station seeps into sewers

Updated 1/25/2016 9:55 PM

The Mobil gas station at the intersection of Northwest Highway and East Main Street in Barrington was shut down Monday after village officials discovered gasoline leaking from the station into a village sanitary sewer.

At least two nearby households called the Barrington Fire Department complaining of a bad smell in their homes before the leak's discovery Monday, village manager Jeff Lawler said. But there are no reports of residents becoming ill and there is no threat to the village's water supply, and the gas station could reopen Thursday morning.


Representatives of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency arrived at the gas station Monday morning and determined that the source of the leak was a valve on a pressurized hose that draws fuel from the station's underground storage tank, Lawler said. That leak has been plugged, he said.

Barrington resident Jenny Morales said her parents, Bob and Susan Myers, live across the street from the Mobil station and have been smelling gas in their home as far back as Jan. 6.

"My dad, who is 80 and housebound, has been having trouble breathing, trouble sleeping, and said he can taste the fumes in the house," she said.

Now that they know the cause of the smell, her parents are planning to go to the hospital to make sure they were not sickened by the fumes, Morales said.

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The fire department checked the Myers' home for fumes on Saturday, but their instruments didn't detect anything, Morales said. Barrington Fire Chief Jim Arie said their instruments detect gasoline fumes only when they are at explosive levels.

Greg Summers, the director of development services for Barrington, said the source of the leak was discovered Monday morning by Gary Most, an engineering project manager for the village, who inspected four houses on East Main Street around 7 a.m. Monday. Summers said Most was unable to detect the fumes at the first three houses, but while he was at the fourth house residents at the first house called him and asked him to come back because the smell had returned.

Summers said Most traced the smell to a manhole cover directly south of the Mobil station and, upon lifting it, discovered that gas had been leaking from somewhere at the station into a sanitary sewer pipe about three feet below the street's surface. Summers said workers immediately plugged up the access to the sanitary sewer line so no more of the leaking gas could get in.

The village then reported the gas leak to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, who dispatched representatives from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which subsequently discovered the source of the leak, and the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshall, which oversees gas tanks.


Summers said Tuesday the village will use a pressure cleaner to shoot water into the sewer affected by the gas leak, a plan recommended by the Illinois EPA, to flush the sewage down to the sewage treatment center.

Summers said his department was first made aware of a foul odor by residents Friday afternoon but the inspectors weren't able to detect an odor when they visited the homes. Summers said initial reports said it smelled like turpentine or paint cleaner, so they also checked out local paint stores and construction sites where painting was going on.

The Mobil has been cut off from the village's sewer line. It shut down Monday as a result because the business can't operate without working restrooms, Lawler said.

Ramesh Thakkar, a manager at the Mobil, said the station will be open for business at about 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Summers said the village will allow the station to hook back up to the village's sewer only after the fire marshal gives the go-ahead during a Tuesday morning inspection.

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