Drinking Water, Flush Only Advisories issued for residents near gas spill in Jackson

CREATED Jul 31, 2012 - UPDATED: Jul 31, 2012

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TOWN OF JACKSON - The Wisconsin DNR has issued a Drinking Water Advisory to residents within the vicinity of a gasoline spill, and has advised residents in that area not to use well water for drinking, cooking or food preparation until the well water testing is completed.

Up to 75 private wells could be affected, according to a news release Tuesday afternoon from the West Shore Pipe Line.

People with problems related to the gasoline spill can start calling the West Shore Pipe Line Claims Center at (866) 837-5016.

The center is open for calls from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.

12 private wells have been contaminated; nine of those private wells currently have concentrations of benzene above federally-established safety standards from the July 17 gasoline spill.

The company said they are making bottled water available to all affected residents.

The wells being tested are generally in the area bounded by: Jackson Road to the west, Spring Valley Road to the south, Center Road to the east, and Sherman Road to the north.

A portion of the testing area has also been placed under a Flush Only Advisory by the Wisconsin DNR.  Residents in the Flush Only Advisory area have been advised not to use their well water for any purpose other than septic systems until further notice.

Meanwhile, people impacted by the leak can voice their concerns about the gasoline spill Tuesday night.

A community meeting got underway at 7 p.m. in the Jackson Area Community Center.

So far, test results have been coming back with worse levels than before.

Jane Gerseth felt that the West Shore Pipe Line has not been up front about the July 17 gas spill.

When asked if she knew if her water was safe to drink, she responded, "Not at all."

"We're continuing the environmental remediation activities.  We've been drilling wells on the property where the release actually took place," said Pat Hodgins, a spokesman for West Shore, on Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."

"Our goal is to start pumping water from there so we can start extracting water that's got gasoline in it."

When it comes to time to get test results, Hodgins said he understood the urgency of getting test results to people quickly.

"We're trying to push hard to get them as soon as we can," explained Hodgins.  "Obviously, if you're one of those residents, you're concerned. You want to know now.  We fully understand that."

"I've actually taped the faucets," said Rebecca Flabo, who is waiting for test results.

"Obviously, I'm terrified.  You don't know what you're going to come home to, if you're going to have a home when you come home from work."

"What we've done is picked up filtration systems that are pre-approved by the U.S. EPA and the state, and providing bottled water to those concerned residents," said Hodgins.

Questions have come about the safety of pipelines, and the age of the one that leaked.

"The pipeline was built in the 1960's, I believe," explained Hodgins. 

"When you look at pipelines across the United States, that's, by a lot of people, is considered to be a fairly new pipe.  If you've maintained corrosion protection and maintained the pipe, you've got no problem.  There are rigorous standards...testing goes on on a regular basis.  It's still the safest mode of transportation in the United States to move any sort of hazardous material."