Although emissions from a proposed gas station near Glen Ellyn are expected to fall below regulatory levels, nearby residents and Butterfield Park District officials worry about the effect any level of chemicals could have on children playing at the neighboring Park District.
"If we can prevent that from happening, if we can prevent the kids from getting leukemia or other related diseases just by moving it down the street some place, then that's what we ought to do," Park District Executive Director Larry Reiner said.
The 1.5-acre development consisting of a gas station, car wash and convenience store would sit at the northeast corner of Butterfield Road and Route 53, next to the Butterfield Park District.
The DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals recommended in July that developer Buchanan Energy receive a conditional use permit for the project, but the matter was returned to the Zoning Board by the DuPage County Board's Development Committee for further investigation into possible health risks associated with the station.
Both sides presented expert testimony about emissions and associated health issues at a special Zoning Board hearing Sept. 26.
A study performed by David Kwasiborski with ECS Midwest showed that chemicals produced by gas stations of a similar and larger size to the proposed development did not exceed a permissible level.
"It's my professional opinion that the planned Glen Ellyn facility will not have a measurable impact on air quality," said Kwasiborski, who was commissioned by Buchanan Energy to perform the study.
However, there could be levels of chemical emissions present at those test sites that were too low to be detected by the equipment used, he said.
Based on the design for the proposed gas station, which would include 10 pump stations with 20 hoses, environmental consultant Edward Cooney said he would expect the station to emit about 650 pounds each year of the chemical benzene, which is known to cause cancer.
That total falls below permitting levels for benzene, said Cooney, who acted as a witness for the Park District. But officials are worried about the effects of any additional benzene emissions in the area.
"Both sides agree there's some and no one can really quantify it," he said. "And our concern is that the 'some' – whatever that number really is – is going to be significant to the children that play at the Park District."
The Zoning Board will meet again Oct. 8 to pass the item to the Development Committee. The zoning recommendation will not change, but the additional information presented at the hearing will be considered by the Development Committee in its deliberations.