The Main Stream

Apr 24, 2013 8:25 PM by Nathan O'Neal

County, city still don't know cause of methane leak in neighborhood

TUCSON - City and county officials still don't know what's the cause of a methane leak in a southeast neighborhood.

The city sent a letter to residents of a mobile home park neighborhood near Irvington and Harrison on April 11, notifying them of the leak. The neighborhood is surrounded by two old landfills, one owned by the county, the other operated by the city.

Initially county officials believe the leak may have come from an old landfill next door after they shut off their methane extraction system. It was also noted that one of the wells within that system may have collapsed.

However, Ursula Kramer, the Director for the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, said they no longer believe the methane leak came from the county landfill because the levels were still showing whenever they turned the extraction system back on.

"At this point it doesn't look like it's coming from either of the landfills," Kramer told News 4 Tucson.

Trying to get to the bottom of this, the city got to work on Wednesday, installing four additional gas probes to try and pinpoint the source of the methane leak.

Meanwhile the county is conducting daily checks of the methane levels and has plans to install more observation probes and fix that constricted extraction well.

While the city says this isn't their responsibility, they've made public safety their primary concern, investing $7,000 into the new monitoring system. Those funds will be taken from the budget but are looking to be compensated by either the county of state after they determine where the source of the leak is.

As for the county, they say they will continue to play as a team in find and fixing the problem.

"Methane comes from some kind of decay of organic materials... so we're looking at some old pictures and trying to talk to people and figure out what some of those possibilities might be," Kramer said.

As for Victor Polivka, who lives in the neighborhood, he says his property sits on a mix of broken concrete and dirt -- he has an idea of where the leak is.

"This is basically like a storage cave and when they were shut down over there, that's where the gas went... it had to go somewhere," Polivka said.

It could be some time before either the county of city determines where the gas is coming from, as a cloud of questions continues to hover over the neighborhood.

"I am basically concerned about myself," Polivka said. "I don't want to be poisoned. I don't want to move from here, I like the place it's a good place with the exception of a little methane leak."

The county insists that the methane levels are not at a combustible level yet and does not pose a danger.


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