Chemical Leak at Gas Facility Has Been Harming Alabamans Since 2008


The Los Angeles Times reports:

A chemical leak at a natural gas facility that had long been owned by San Diego-based Sempra Energy has been found to have contributed to the troubled health of residents in a poor Alabama community.

The Alabama Department of Public Health announced in a recent press release that the ongoing review of the 2008 leak in Eight Mile, Ala., has determined that the chemical odorant used to detect natural gas leaks is affecting residents in the predominantly African American community of 8,000.

In October, the Los Angeles Times reported about the leak in Eight Mile after residents in the community complained that they were largely ignored for years although 2,000 miles away, in the affluent Porter Ranch neighborhood, people were relocated and compensated following the methane leak from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility — also owned by a Sempra subsidiary. 

In both incidents, residents complained of nosebleeds, headaches and vomiting, which they attributed to the natural gas-related odor. In Eight Mile, residents have questioned whether the chemical odor contributed to seizures in children, respiratory ailments and other serious health effects.

“Based on the current scientific evidence and available information, we believe that the community is affected by the odors,” said Dr. Mary McIntyre, chief medical officer for the Alabama health department.

“These odors may impact residents’ sense of well-being and quality of life,” McIntyre stated. “Mercaptan causes irritation to mucous membranes and has been associated with some of the symptoms reported by the residents of Eight Mile.” 

To read the complete Los Angeles Times article, click here.

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