Attorney General Files Suit Against Peoples Gas

October 21, 2017
In this Aug. 21, 2014, file photo, Illinois Attorney Gen. Lisa Madigan speaks during a news conference in Chicago.

In this Aug. 21, 2014, file photo, Illinois Attorney Gen. Lisa Madigan speaks during a news conference in Chicago. Madigan has filed a lawsuit against Peoples Gas in Champaign County over a natural gas leak near Mahomet.

M. Spencer Green/AP

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against Peoples Gas over a natural gas leak north of Mahomet in Champaign County.

A Champaign County Circuit Court judge granted Madigan’s request for a preliminary injunction, that will require Peoples Gas to identify the cause of the leak, which has contaminated at least five private water wells in the area.

Under the court order, Peoples is also required to provide safe drinking water to residents affected by the leak, and to install gas monitoring devices in impacted households.

The Attorney General’s office is also asking the court to require Peoples Gas to hire an independent environmental engineering firm to investigate the extent of natural gas in the Mahomet Aquifer, which provides drinking water to about 850-thousand people in Illinois.

The lawsuit is also asking for civil penalties against the company.

Peoples Gas reported the gas leak to the state on December 6, 2016. The company's initial efforts to repair the damage were unsuccessful.

In September, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources sent Peoples Gas a Notice of Violation, giving the company 30 days to repair the environmental damage.

The 30-day-period has passed, and the company's remediation efforts are not complete. The DNR has granted the company an extension, but has not set a new deadline for the work to be complete.

Peoples Gas says its cleanup efforts are continuing, and that the company has petitioned the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to drill four relief wells to vent the natural gas into the atmosphere.

Earlier this week, State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) sent the Attorney General's office a letter, requesting legal action. The case had been referred to the Attorney General's office by the IDNR on October 11.

Story source: WILL