Jackson families forced out of homes after gasoline pipeline leak

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JACKSON -- At least three Jackson families have been forced out of their home after a leak was discovered in a gasoline pipeline that transports fuel from Chicago to Green Bay. Environmental tests have indicated dangerous chemicals in well water as a result of the pipeline's burst.

West Shore Pipe Line company is in charge of the pipeline, and said in a statement issued Wednesday, July 25th, they were providing bottled water for residents after elevated levels of benzene were discovered in well water samples.

Benzene is a carcinogen.

Sally McComis and her family live next to the site where crews repaired the busted pipeline. McComis says her hard has been torn up, and she and her family have been staying in a hotel for over a week. Now, they're being forced to move again, after McComis says hotel management is mistreating her family.

"We're moving from that hotel because it just hasn't worked out for our family.  We have six people in two rooms and we were asked to have our dogs leave the other day and it just is really hard for us," McComis said.

McComis says she was told things were being taken care of in terms of repairing the pipeline, and there weren't any problems. Then, she found out their well is contaminated, and noticed Thursday morning crews were digging again, reportedly without notification.

"We were stunned. We were beyond surprised," McComis said.

Despite the ongoing destruction of their homestead, McComis says the forced closeness of a cramped hotel room is helping to strengthen their family's bond.

"It's really been kind of fun to hear them giggling and laughing and teasing each other.  We've just really gotten down to the basics and it's been really exciting that way.  We did have to bring the PlayStation, but other than that, we're down to the basics," McComis said.

McComis says they haven't been given any estimates as to when the new round of work will be completed. However, they said West Shore Pipe Line has reserved hotel rooms for them through the end of August.

The company said Wednesday it is working with residents to install permanent water filtration systems.

In a statement, West Shore Pipe Line said:

"Our key focus is protecting the safety of the public, our employees and those responding to this incident, as well as minimizing environmental impact. As part of this commitment, work crews will continue to conduct environmental testing – including outdoor and indoor air quality testing, soil sampling, well installation monitoring, and water monitoring – around the location of the release and will work with regulators to take any and all actions necessary to continue to mitigate any environmental impact.

All other test results to date, including indoor air quality tests of residences in close proximity to the pipeline, indicate that there has been no impact to the air quality in the community as a result of last week’s gasoline release."

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