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EPA investigating Nicor contamination in Park Ridge

Release Date: 07/16/2007
Contact Information: William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, Kären Thompson, 312-353-8547,

No. 07-OPA119

(Chicago, Ill. - July 16, 2007) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 is investigating the Nicor Gas natural gas distribution system in Park Ridge, Ill., for PCB-contaminated liquids.

In June, Nicor contacted EPA to report the discovery of PCBs at four Park Ridge homes. Nicor had performed cleanups at these homes. EPA inspectors did follow-up testing of the indoor air, soil and hard surfaces and found small amounts of contamination outside two of the homes. EPA required Nicor to clean up this contamination.

In rare cases, liquids in natural gas pipelines can migrate through meters, interrupting pressure or gas flow to appliances in homes. These pipeline liquids are typically substances such as methane, propane and butane, but may also contain polychlorinated biphenyls, also called PCBs.

To verify that the problem is an isolated one, EPA is requiring Nicor to test residences and other buildings in Park Ridge and to provide additional information. Initially, 80 homes will be tested. Sampling will take place during July and August and is being done in accordance with all applicable federal regulations. Based on test results and the other information provided by Nicor, EPA will decide what further steps to take.

Nicor will explain the situation to the Park Ridge City Council at a meeting at 7:30 p.m., Monday, July 16 at City Hall. EPA experts will also attend.

PCBs are mixtures of synthetic chemicals ranging from oily liquids to waxy solids. Because of evidence that PCBs persist in the environment and cause harmful effects, domestic manufacture of commercial mixtures stopped in 1977; existing PCBs continue to be used. EPA data indicates that PCBs are probable cancer-causing substances.

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