JACKSON — A dangerous chemical is seeping underground in Jackson, and the number of families being forced out of their homes is growing. It’s all because a gasoline pipeline leak is contaminating their wells with benzene.
Since the initial burst almost two weeks ago, the pipeline’s owner, West Shore Pipe Line has repaired and restarted the pipeline, but the effects are far from over. The testing area has now been expanded, and some homeowners fear the trouble may just be beginning.
“I was surprised there was a pipeline over there,” neighbor Greg Holt said.
Like many homeowners in the subdivision, Holt didn’t know the 650-mile long, 10-inch diameter pipeline that transports gasoline, diesel and jet fuel to Green Bay from Chicago, was near his home until he saw crews working on repairs.
Now, he’s even more concerned. He lives about a ¼ mile away from the leak site and worries that he could possibly be in harm’s way.
“A girl came over and said they were going to test our wells,” Holt said.
“They could have gave us a heads up to what was going on,” neighbor Tammy Tetzlaff said.
Neighbors who gathered with Tetzlaff felt they should have been contacted earlier. It wasn’t until Saturday, July 28th that workers went door to door testing an additional 20 wells, as requested by the Department of Natural Resources.
“Unfortunately we’re going to have to shower in the water. Now that its starting to rain, we’re really concerned that it’s starting to leak into our wells,” Tetzlaff said.
“We’re afraid of what`s going to happen five years from now. Is this stuff going to be seeping underneath our foundation? Nobody can answer anything yet,” Tim Dano said.
FOX6 News called Patrick Hodgins with West Shore Pipe Line. He tried to quell resident’s fears.
“All evidence shows it was an instantaneous leak. We have already installed filtration systems. All the impacted soil has almost been completely removed from the release site,” Hodgins said.
It will take a few days before residents will get their testing results. Until then they plan to drink bottled water, but they remain uneasy, and want to be kept in the loop.
“It really is the lack of information that’s making everyone nervous,” Tetzlaff said.
Hodgins said the state is asking the company to hold a town hall meeting in Jackson and they are in the process of setting that up. So far they have a tentative date for Tuesday, July 31st, but details are still being worked out.