Evanston re-files lawsuit after finding nonhazardous materials matching coal tar in water lines

Rishika Dugyala, Assistant City Editor

The city re-filed a lawsuit against two companies last Tuesday regarding nonhazardous materials found inside and around south Evanston water lines.

The initial lawsuit claimed the companies were responsible for high levels of methane gas detected around James Park, which is located near the corner of Dodge Avenue and Oakton Street. In February, a federal court judge dismissed Evanston’s lawsuit against Nicor Gas, a natural gas distribution company, and Commonwealth Edison, an electric utility company.

Officials found black crust on city water mains along Dodge Avenue in 2014 and the summer of 2015, which matched the “coal tar” found at the Skokie Manufactured Gas Plant Site, according to a news release from the city.

The new lawsuit also presented results from an independent testing laboratory that confirmed the presence of materials associated with “coal tar” on the water mains, although the substances found posed no hazard to the drinking water or to the community in any other way.

All materials discovered were also below the levels required for reporting to the US and Illinois Environmental Protection Agencies. Still, the city provided its information to the US EPA in April, and an EPA official indicated in his report that the substances did not “pose an unacceptable threat to public health,” according to the news release.

The city continues to test and sample water supplies to confirm current chemical conditions as it moves forward with the new lawsuit.

Email: rishikadugyala2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @rdugyala822