PRICHARD, Ala. (WALA) - FOX10 News continues to take a closer look at the foul chemical odor in the Eight Mile and Prichard area. Prichard Mayor Troy Ephriam and the Director of Fair Housing said concerns about mercaptan exposure should be taken seriously.
"Their concerns are warranted. And you have to feel for them because a year later the smell is still there. In spite of the efforts of Mobile Gas, in spite of the some of the mandates that have been passed down from ADEM and EPA, the smell is still there. And as long as the smell is there, people's concerns will be warranted," Ephriam said.
For years, residents in the Eight Mile area have complained about a pungent smell in their community. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management has identified the odor as tert-butyl mercaptan - a chemical with a strong odor added to natural gas lines to help you detect a leak.
ADEM has linked the chemical in the groundwater and in the air to Mobile Gas and ordered them to get rid of the smell. The gas company has an abatement system set-up, but residents said it is not doing enough.
Mobile Gas is not issuing a comment on the issue because of a pending lawsuit.
Ephriam said his office is coordinating schedules with both national and state agencies. And a community meeting with them will be held soon.
"What we've basically been doing behind the scenes is making sure we stay in close direct contact with all the regulatory agencies: ADEM, EPA, CDC, state health department to make sure that we are still kept informed as to where things are on a status level," Ephriam said.
Ephriam said there are some questions that still need answers.
"What further needs to be done? I think that is the key question. What more? How much more? How soon? And necessary steps need to be done in terms of remediation. Whether it be groundwater or if continued air quality control needs to be resolved. That's our concern right now for the citizens," Ephriam said.
Executive Director of Fair Housing Teresa Bettis said the mercaptan exposure is also a housing issue. She remembers the day she knew she had to get involved.
"When I went to the meeting at High Point and I heard one of the participants say, ‘I had to move because every morning I was getting up and going to work at five o'clock every morning having to pull over on the side of the road and vomit. And I couldn't continue to live that way,'" she said.
Bettis said she is working with a Louisiana scientist to help determine the scope of the problem and offer some solutions. She is asking the community to complete this survey and send it to the center for fair housing office in Mobile. She said it will be used for research purposes.
Eight Mile Mercaptan Odor Survey:
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