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Gas Station Knew of Leak Before West Suburban Explosions: IEPA

A west suburban gas station knew about a gas leak issue several days before explosions and fires rattled a neighborhood and injured two people, according to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

It is not the first time the Speedway located at 6241 South Cass Avenue in Westmont has reported a leaking underground tank, state records show.

Last Friday, gas explosions rocked an apartment complex on Knoll Wood Road in Willowbrook. The incident displaced residents and sent an 81-year-old woman to the hospital.

Authorities traced the source of the explosions a mile away to the Speedway in Westmont.

State environmental officials said the Speedway reported it had become aware of an issue with loss of product on October 16th and began pumping its product tanks on October 19th. However, the Illinois EPA said it only received notice of the incident on October 20th.

The gas station has since been isolated from the sanitary sewer and was shut down.

The Illinois EPA has referred an enforcement action to the Illinois Attorney General against Speedway LLC for releasing gasoline into the sanitary sewer system in DuPage County. The agency is seeking an order that would require the company to immediately control any additional gas station at the site, investigate the cause of the release and remediate contamination and continue air monitoring on the sewer line.

A spokesperson for Speedway said an investigation into the incident is ongoing and the company is working closely with all appropriate local and state agencies to address and resolve the incident. Speedway has also assembled an emergency response team of more than 100 employees who are currently in impacted neighborhoods visiting with residents and businesses.

A state database shows leaks from the Speedway’s underground tanks were also reported in 2009 and 2016.

NBC 5 Investigates has learned the state has issued 5,699 citations for leaking underground tanks in Greater Chicago since 2013.

The Chicago Department of Public Health said as of September 2017, a total of 3,959 leaking underground storage tanks within the city have been cleaned up while 797 remain.

Cleanup is the responsibility of the property owner or operator and managed by the Illinois EPA.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal does not regulate “residential” underground storage tanks.

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