Neighbor Says Tanks on Property Dangerous

Neighbor Says Tanks on Property Dangerous
By: Arnold Wyrick

PERSHING, Ill. - When the winds are out of the southwest some folks living in Pershing, Illinois, say they can smell a strong odor of gas in the air.  
George Gass says he's feared there might be more in the tanks on his neighbor's property.
"For the past two years there's just been more and more tanks stored out here.  Some of them's marked with liquid oxygen.  They're all supposed to be marked, 90 percent aren't marked.  You don't know what's in there.  And it's like a landfill around here you can see too," Gass said.
The property Gass and his neighbors are concerned about belongs to Bill Collins.  It's located at the end of Pershing Road in Franklin County.  Gass says he's complained to several state and local agencies to get Collins to clean the place up.
"We're smelling the propane.  I've made complaints to the State Fire Marshal's office, to the Environmental Protection Agency.  The kids are coming back here and stealing the anhydrous ammonia to make meth.  It's dangerous in that way," Gass said.
But, Bill Collins says he's doing nothing wrong and that folks living nearby have nothing to worry about.
"There's no poisons and there are no flammables.  All of the cylinders are empty except for the two we're filling for the community.  And other then the acetylene and propane in the facilities we're vending out of," Collins said.
The Illinois State Fire Marshall's office did investigate Collins' business in July of this year and found that he was in violation of one of the state's fire codes.  The empty cylinders must be placed on rocks or some other form of support to keep them from sinking into the ground.
"There are no zoning ordinances in the county, so technically Collins is not violating any ordinances," said Jim McPhail, a Franklin County Board member.
Collins did mention that he eventually plans to move his business to a much more rural location east of Johnston City.