Illegal Disposal Discovered in Sewer System

August 18, 2015


For Immediate Release

Monday, August 17, 2015 during a routine daily inspection of the Lake Shore Drive Pump Station a Sanitary District of Decatur employee discovered an intense odor of gasoline. This pump station serves the Lakeview and Homewood neighborhoods.

Authorities said that the Decatur Fire Department was called in because of the potential explosion risk. Access to the area was restricted while the Fire Department attempted to determine the extent of the contamination and it was cleaned up. No residences were required to be evacuated.

Sanitary District officials suspect that someone dumped an unknown quantity of gasoline into the sewer system, possibly by dumping it down a drain. The gas vapors then became trapped in the pump station.

Fire Department crews detected dangerous levels of combustible gas when they arrived on the scene. Those levels dropped to safe levels and the gas vapors dissipated after the Fire Department employees began to ventilate the pump station.

Sanitary District Interim Executive Director Kent Newton suspected the dumping was by someone who did not know how to legally dispose of the substance or did not know that disposing of gasoline in a sewer is illegal.

The Macon County Environmental Management website recommends that you safely store old gasoline until a one-day hazardous waste collection is sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in Macon County or the surrounding area.

Sanitary District officials say that based on the fact that there has not been a report of a major spill that the gasoline itself posed little threat to the sewer system or treatment plant.

"The gas will become diluted and it won't pose a hazard by the time it gets to the treatment facility," Newton added.

“The main thing is we need to educate the public and find out who did this,” he said. “Samples from the pump station are being analyzed to determine the exact makeup of the contaminants to narrow down potential sources. We need to see this person repay any of the related cleanup expenses.”

The public is asked to call the Sanitary District of Decatur at (217)-422-6931 if you have any information about the illegal disposal.