Public health and environmental officials from state and federal agencies will speak to concerns from Eight Mile residents about continued mercaptan exposure.
The public meeting will be Tuesday, August 16 at 7pm at High Point Baptist Church at 2421 Lott Rd, Prichard, AL 36613.
In a statement released this week, We Matter Eight Mile Community Association (WMEMCA) President Carletta Davis said she hopes the meeting will set the record straight.
“After months of mounting pressures brought by the community, we are heartened to announce to the community an opportunity to finally hear directly from our Mobile County Public Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), and US Attorney Kenyon Brown,” she said. “The community has come together over and over again, we’ve rallied, and we’ve strategized for positive resolution to this crisis. It only seems to be getting worse, and we need answers now.”
Prichard District 1 Councilman Lorenzo Martin said in a statement he requested the meeting from the state agencies in Montgomery. He said he’s also traveled to Washington D.C. for the same reason.
The same sets of symptoms documented 4 years ago by the CDC are as persistent as ever, according the statement. WMEMCA has conducted over 1,300 health surveys affected with residents in the last several weeks that confirm that health problems ranging from respiratory complications of every nature to skin rashes, nausea, and worse are still challenging residents who feel the ongoing, chronic exposure to mercaptan is to blame, the statement reads.
More health surveys will be filled out from 5:45-6:30 Tuesday, August 16 immediately prior to the public meeting at 7 p.m.
Two odorant chemicals, ethyl methyl sulfide and tertiary butyl mercaptan, were released into the environment in uncertain quantity almost 8 years ago by Mobile Gas at its bulk gas processing facility in Eight Mile, according to the statement. The chemicals, added to otherwise odorless natural gas for leak-detection purposes, have since migrated underground seem to escape into the air with the surfacing of underground springs affecting thousands of nearby residents, the statement reads.
“This stuff is making us sick, and we deserve to be treated like … human beings,” Davis said. “That’s why we say ‘We Matter.’ What we need is to be told what is being done and what will be done if those efforts are unsuccessful in ending our exposure.”