8 Mile residents seek state & federal help with odor

Alabama Department of Environmental Management is the agency monitoring Mobile Gas and its clean-up efforts.

The "We Matter 8-Mile Community Association" is asking for state and federal help to tackle the strong odor that has plagued the community for years. Mobile Gas leaked mercaptan in the area nearly a decade ago but residents said the smell has returned. The odor is likened to a rotten egg.

"We know this is in our ground water," said organizer Carletta Davis. "We know that this is in our soil, and we know it's in the air because we smell it every day."

Davis and other Eight Mile residents said Mobile Gas is not doing enough to rid the area of mercaptan in the groundwater and soil. They blame the Alabama Department of Environmental Management. "We Matter Eight Mile Community Association" held a meeting with city officials and citizens about what steps to take next.

"We're asking for federal investigation, "said Davis.

As of now the EPA's hands are tied. Councilman Lorenzo Martin said mercaptan is not classified as a hazardous chemical, so the federal does not have jurisdiction.

"We say whoever has the responsibility, we have an issue before us in our back yard," said Martin.

Alabama Department of Environmental Management is the agency monitoring Mobile Gas and its clean-up efforts.

"We do feel that ADEM needs to put more pressure on Mobile Gas," said Davis. "Also there needs to be an investigation-a criminal investigation because they let this go on for so long."

According to a government study, the short term exposure to mercaptan includes vomiting, diarrhea, lunch congestion, kidney damage, and even coma. The study revealed there is no information on the long term health effects.

Last year, there was a gas and mercaptan leak in Porter Ranch, California. The company responsible: SoCal Gas. SoCal gas is owned by Sempra, and Sempra owns Mobile Gas.

California residents complained of rashes, nose bleeds, and respiratory issues.

The symptoms are similar to what Eight Mile residents say they experience every day.

"I come up with something like a rash, and I've had it about 8 years," said Eight Mile Resident Jimmie King.

According to the NBC affiliate in Los Angeles, Sempra paid an estimated $1.8 million a day to help relocate residents and to provide temporary housing for those in the affluent area.

"They have cleaned this community up, and for eight years they have left this toxic poison in our community," said Davis. "We've had enough."

Organizers have arranged for a march on Thursday from Bienville Square to the federal courthouse. It will start at 4 p.m.

ADEM reps did not want to provide Local 15 News with an interview; however, a spokesperson provided a fact sheet below.

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