A community meeting is planned for Thursday night to discuss results of water tests around James Park that Evanston officials say turned up low levels of coal-tar related chemicals in some samples.

At a meeting in June, where results from a few sites were discussed, officials promised to expand the testing program, and they’ll be reporting on that additional testing Thursday.

The city has sued ComEd and Nicor, claiming that the former Skokie manufactured gas plant, operated by predecessor companies of the utilities at Oakton Street and McCormick Boulevard during the first half of the last century, is the source of the chemicals now getting into the water supply.

Jeff Jeep, an attorney hired by the city to represent it in the suit, told residents at the June meeting that coal tar, used in the process of converting coal and oil into manufactured gas, leaked out of the plant and its pipeline infrastructure.

In June the chemicals had only been found in water tested at one location — the Dobson Plaza Nursing Home. The additional testing has turned up low levels of the chemicals — phenanthrene and fluoranthene — at four more sites.

City officials say that neither state nor federal environomental agencies have set maximum safe levels for the two chemicals in public drinking water supply systems.

But the Illinois EPA has set standards for them for potable drinking water that are more than 1,000 times higher than the levels found in the samples tested in Evanston.

Thursday’s meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Dawes Elementary School, 440 Dodge Ave.

Related stories

City officials pledge to do more water testing (6/17/16)

Water still safe, despite coal tar, city says (6/6/16)

Court dismisses James Park gas suit (2/19/16)

City: Nicor to blame for methane around park (2/3/15)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Testing at Chute Middle School?

    Chute Middle School is less than two blocks away from a location where these contaminants were found in the water.  With hundreds of children and about 100 adults in that building, it would seem logical to take water samples there next. 

    1. Water in the schools was just tested in June

      In June, when there was considerable publicity about lead in the water of some schools nationwide, District 65 had the water tested in all its schools. As a result, Superintendent Goren issued a statement that “the water in District 65 meets all necessary standards and our schools remain in compliance with all laws and regulations for water quality.”

      1. Less than complete disclosure

        Thanks for the information but I do not find the information from D65 to be reassuring.

        The City is having a meeting to discuss testing results that "meet standards."  D65's statement does not disclose whether contaminants in the levels found by the city's testing are present at the same or similar levels in Chute's water.  

        The public should be told the exact D65 testing results, just as the city is disclosing its testing results.  Some namby-pamby "meets standards" statement is not the same as telling us what contaminants are present and in what amounts.

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