Orion Village President: The EPA’s lack of action is ‘totally unacceptable’

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There's a problem in the small Village of Orion, Illinois that originated in 1995.

Documents obtained my News Eight indicate the problem emerged when more than 10,000 gallons of fuel leaked from four underground storage tanks below the Shell Station, formerly owned by Bulk Petroleum. Fifteen years later, residents in Orion living off of 10th and 11th Avenues began reporting the smell of gas in their homes.

The village president, Jim Cooper, has been battling with the Illinois EPA for more than four years,  laboring for a solution.

"This has probably been the most frustrating thing I've had to deal with sine my time serving this community," Jim Cooper said, who's been the village president since 2005.

Since 2010, a blue tarp-covered picnic table, covered with an exhaust fan hovering over an open manhole along 11th Avenue, circulates the smell of sewage.

Cooper believes the heavy rainfall they received days prior, floated the gasoline above, and infiltrated the sewage lines

"The gas floats on top of the water, and it got to a level equal to or higher than where our sewer lines are," Cooper said.

Both residents and village officials are pleading for an explanation.

After a FOIA request by News Eight, documents reveal Cooper began regularly emailing the Illinois EPA in regards to fixing the problem. Since 2010, Cooper said the EPA has not been consistently updating the village with the status of the issue.

"There was no communication from them," Cooper said. "It's been one-way communication, me contacting them."

Cooper added that the village has done everything they can to get the problem resolved, but they're waiting for the EPA's approval of the project. The task, which involves re-aligning sewer lines along 10th and 11th Avenues, will be paid for with the LUST (Leaking Underground Storage Tank) trust fund.

The Illinois EPA told News Eight that progress has been made, but there is no timetable on when the re-alignment will happen.

Cooper said he is pushing to have the work started in the fall of 2014.







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