Evanston’s City Council has approved another round of tests to try to determine the source of methane gas detected at James Park and installing gas alarm systems at the school and senior center that border the park.

Initial tests earlier this year found concentrations of the flammable gas about 50 feet underground in the park — a former landfill site.

But the city’s consultants now say the composition of the chemical mixture found with the gas suggests that the source may not be decomposition of solid waste dumped there.

The new round of more detailed testing, estimated to cost up to $106,000, is designed look for mercaptan, a chemical added to natural gas by utilities, and other chemical signatures that could determine the exact source of the gas.

In response to a question from Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, at Monday night’s council meeting, Deputy City Attorney Michelle Masoncup said that if the tests determined the city-owned landfill is not the source of the gas, the city would pursue claims against whatever entity may have caused it.

Fire Chief Greg Klaiber says tests conducted three times weekly at Dawes Elementary School and the Levy Senior Center using a hand-held methane monitor have not turned up any elevated levels of the gas in either facility.

But Klaiber says that as a public safety measure a permanent detection system should be installed at each facility.

The new alarms, costing a total of $42,554, will be tied into the existing fire alarm systems at each building.

If an elevated level of methane were to be detected, Klaiber says, an audible alarm would sound, informing people to leave the buiding, and the system would also notify the Fire Department to respond to investigate the situation.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. What entity caused the city to Spend over $200,000?
    The city , has not been clear on who caused them to start this testing in the first place, The documents seem to claim work on the Water district site, were they found high levels, caused this, but it is not clear.

    At one point the city claimed it would spend what was necessary, so far they have spend $200,000 plus, with no real clear plan.

    Also the monitoring seem rather pointless, the Levy Center does not have basement, and is ventilated, so its not too likely gas will build up, more likely to be in home or sewer in the area.

    Also it appears they have a new consultant, so the first testing many not have been very useful.

    What was unclear if you read the documents the city proceed to do work with out council approval, for testing, spending thousands of dollars, after the council approved alittle over $20,000.

    Also it appear at one point the city was to do some research and did not follow through, Also in this entire process, it does not appear anyone city employee was leading it, so it even more confused.

    At the last council a member critized a citizen for asking a question at public comment, about financing of a development, althought there was NO financing to be provided by the city, it is quite clear, the disorganization of how the city does its business, is creating an enviroment that no one, including public officials have any idea of what is going on, many times.

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