People’s Gas spokesman Brian Manthey said last week that “trace amounts,” of methane gas was found in two additional private wells in the vicinity of a leak that occurred approximately 6 miles north of Mahomet last December.
That brings to seven the number of private wells that had confirmed levels of methane.
“We have conducted over 70 tests and have results back from 60 thus far,” Matheny said.
In addition to the seven wells from the December, 2016 incident, Manthey said the recent well tests revealed “remnants of natural gas from the 1960s,” in four other wells.
“We can tell from isotopic analysis, it’s not consistent with gas in Manlove Field,” Manthey said.
Manthey and field staff from People’s Gas conducted two information sessions for the public on Tuesday at the Lake of the Woods Pavilion.
When questioned by a resident about trace amount of methane still being detected from the 1961 leak, Manlove Field principal engineer Tom Davis said, “you will never get 100 percent of the gas out of the ground. That’s a fact.”
When asked point-blank if there had been recent leaks beyond the one reported from last December, the vice-president for gas and renewables for the parent company of People’s Gas, WEC Energy Group, Paul Spicer, responded, “The answer is ‘no.’ There were four (wells) where they said take a closer look before putting them back in service.”
Several residents expressed concern for the immediate lack of information which was made public following the 2016 leak.
Spicer addressed the topic.
“Being proactive would have been the thing to do,” he said. “We were focused on containing the leak.
“There was not a bad-faith effort. We were doing our best to understand the extent of it.”
Physician Mark Roberts, who spent 17 years working in public health in Oklahoma and for the past 14 years has been a paid consultant for the company, Exponent, has examined the findings.
“There are no drinking water standards for methane in the water,” Roberts said, “but methane comes out of the water quickly and there is no evidence of adverse health risks.”
Roberts said his opinion is both for consuming the water or bathing in it. “It is not absorbed into the skin,” Roberts said.
A system has been developed, which is akin to fingerprinting, and can pinpoint, Roberts said, whether the gas found in the wells is “the normal glacial methane or the thermogenic product.”
State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) was among the more than 60 members of the audience at Tuesday’s first public session,
The 2016 leak was found bubbling at the surface of what is known as McCord #2 (one of 153 wells that cover parts of 27,500 acres), but where it originated has not been pinpointed.
“I don’t know how you can have a plan for the leak when you don’t know where the leak is,” Rose commented.
The People’s Gas underground storage is 4,000 feet below the surface and, Roberts said is “contained by water not in the (Mahomet) Aquifer. It is underneath a stone cap.”
By contrast, storage was at 1,500 feet below the surface in 1961.
Spicer said efforts are underway to examine each of the People’s Gas wells in the area north and northwest of Mahomet.
“To date, we’re in the low 80s and by the end of next year, nearly all 153 will have had a detailed inspection,” Spicer said. “We are conducting more frequent inspections of each well.”
Roberts acknowledged there is a plethora of information available on the Internet concerning methane gas and he offered one caution.
“It’s important to separate information from hydrofracking gas versus the product leaked out of this,” Roberts said. “I would not use the hydrofracking info to evaluate the health process.
“It’s not just what I’m saying, it’s what health departments in Illinois, Minnesota and Pennsylvania are saying.”
Added Manthey: “It’s like talking about apples and oranges.”
Persons with additional inquiries can speak to a representative of People’s Gas by calling 877-380-0522.