EIGHT MILE, Ala. (WALA) - An engineering company, hired by Mobile Gas, submitted a nearly 800 page site assessment report on an ongoing tert-butyl mercaptan investigation in Eight Mile.
Since 2011, Eight Mile residents have complained of a chemical foul odor and many believe it is making them sick.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management identified the chemical as tert-butyl mercaptan, a chemical added to natural gas lines to detect a leak. The chemical has a strong, rotten-egg odor.
The state agency said the chemical is in the groundwater, soil and air in some parts of the community.
ADEM linked the chemical to Mobile Gas and ordered it to clean up the chemical, and mitigate the smell.
McFadden Engineering submitted its recent results of its investigation to ADEM on behalf of Mobile Gas.
The site assessment included the collection of soil and groundwater samples and the installation of ground water monitoring wells in the following places:
- Gulf South Property, where Mobile Gas injects tert-butyl mercaptan into natural gas lines
- Two properties near Cochran Road in Eight Mile
- The "Reed Property" near Shelton Beach Road where groundwater springs are located
According to the report, tert-butyl mercaptan is still being detected in those areas.
The report states in part:
"Reduced sulfur compounds are present in the soil. Typically being detected in the 'smear zone' were soil and groundwater interaction takes place. Tert-butyl mecaptan was the most common compound detected during this investigation. However other reduced sulfur compounds and and non-reduced sulfur compounds were detected."
According to the report, the highest level of tert-butyl mercaptan was detected on the Gulf South Property.
Mobile Gas said a lightning strike caused a mercaptan leak at the mercaptan injection site, on Gulf South Property, back in 2008. A Mobile Gas spokesperson said the company cleaned up the chemcial then.
So why, five years later, does the report show the highest concentration of mercaptan is still being detected at the injection site? We asked ADEM that question.
"I don't think there is any disputing the fact that they did have a release in that area. Now whether or not they cleaned it up to appropriate standard….given the fact that there are still mercaptan compounds in the soil and ground water there, it seems additional clean-up needs to be done,” said ADEM Spokesperson Scott Hughes.
A few weeks after our special report on the Eight Mile odor back in May, the report reveals Mobile Gas decided to make improvements on the system set-up to get rid of the smell.
ADEM said results from odor patrols and lab testing factored into the decision.
"We've realized from the very beginning that was not the ultimate system that we wanted to see there. We realized itwas doing a very good job at capturing the mercaptan vapors but it wasn't the best we could put down there,” said Hughes
Hughes said Mobile Gas is working on improving the system now
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