Crews patch crude oil pipeline after leak near Lemont refinery

Lemont, IL

Up to 500 barrels of crude oil were released into the ground Tuesday near the Lemont Citgo Refinery after a 12-inch crude oil pipeline broke.

The leak, reported at about 8 a.m. Tuesday near New Avenue, roughly a half-mile south of 135th Street, closed New Avenue from Archer Avenue to 135th Street and halted Metra and Amtrak trains running on the Heritage Corridor Line.

By Tuesday evening, a HazMat crew had made temporary repairs to the pipeline, owned by West Shore Pipeline, said Colleen Kester, a spokesperson for Buckeye Partners, the company that operates the pipeline for West Shore.

“We had temporary repairs done on the pipeline last evening, and we are waiting on approval of a restart plan,” Kester said Wednesday. “Once the plan gets approved, the pipeline will be restarted.”

Roughly 380 barrels of product were salvaged as of Wednesday, and emergency response contractors will continue to work on excavating the ground around the leak, Kester said.

“Due to the frost and the cold temperatures, the (leak) was contained in the top six-inches of soil,” she said.

The section of damaged pipe will be cut and sent out for analysis to determine the cause of the incident, Kester said, adding that such an analysis takes between four and six weeks.

The pipeline runs from the Shell Tank Farm in Lockport to the Citgo Refinery in Lemont, Kester said.

Will County Sheriff’s Police, Romeoville Emergency Response, HazMat crews, local fire crews and representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency responded to the incident Tuesday morning.

Air quality tests and other readings were conducted throughout the day, before railway was reopened. New Avenue will likely remain closed until Monday, authorities said.

The leak spread about 300 feet from its origin, but there was never any danger to the Illinois & Michigan Canal, which runs just to the north of the incident area, said Kathy Hoffmeyer, a representative for the Will County Sheriff’s Office.

Train traffic, however, was affected by the leak.

A Metra train inbound from Joliet to Chicago was re-routed back to Joliet, according to Metra spokesperson Michael Gillis.

By the Tuesday evening commuter, a single-track was open, allowing ALL trains to pass, said Meg Reile, a spokesperson for Metra. However, there were delays due to the slow speed trains were required to pass through the area, she said.

The incident also caused significant delays for Amtrak. According to the Amtrak web site, several trains from St. Louis to Chicago were delayed and detoured, and four more trains were canceled with alternative transportation provided.