EIGHT MILE, Ala. (WALA) - The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) has officially determined the cause of a foul odor in the Eight Mile area.
"We have confirmed based on our geologist field observations that there is Mercaptan in the soil and in the groundwater," said Scott Hughes with ADEM.
Hughes says the department found the chemical Mercaptan present in the soil and groundwater at a distribution pipeline run by Mobile Gas.
ADEM confirms the impacted groundwater traveled off-site from that location, contaminating the surrounding groundwater.
Officials at the department write:
"ADEM has instructed Mobile Gas to immediately initiate steps to address the odors that are the source of citizen complaints. As a result, an application has been submitted to ADEM for the issuance of an Underground Injection Control permit that will support the oxidation and breakdown of the Mercaptan that is in the ground water."
The letter, provided to FOX10 News, said that process would not mask the Mercaptan odor. Instead, it would actually break down the chemical in the groundwater.
"You can put a chemical into the ground water that breakdown the actual Mercaptan or you can pump the ground water out, treat it above ground and then put the treated groundwater back at a different location," said Hughes.
After sampling water from a stream in the area of Shelton Beach Road in May, Mobile Gas said it found high levels of Mercaptan, which is the same chemical the company uses to add odor to natural gas.
While the company said it can't find a leaking line, spokeswoman Keeshia Davis said back in April the company was looking into a pipeline that had leaked before.
"We want to make sure that whatever happened in 2008 is not connected to what is going on now," she said.
Davis says lighting struck a Mercaptan injection line in 2008, causing the chemical to spill out into the soil.
The site of the spill is about 1,000 feet from the smell, just off Shelton Beach Road.
Mobile Gas released the following statement:
‘Mobile Gas is continuing its thorough investigation into the source of the mercaptan odor in the Eight Mile community including the identification of potential sources that are unknown at this time. No determination has yet been made as to the definitive source of the mercaptan odor. We are working closely with Alabama Department of Environmental Management ("ADEM") and are currently reviewing several different treatment options that could be used to address the mercaptan odor.
Regardless of who is responsible, Mobile Gas is developing potential plans to address the odor. On May 18, Mobile Gas submitted a permit application to ADEM for treating groundwater on the private property where two groundwater seeps have been identified.'
Environment officials say the results of air sampling recently conducted in the area are expected within the next two weeks.
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