Health Department: Odor from Chemical Spill Affecting Eight Mile Community

EIGHT MILE, AL — The Alabama Department of Public Health is acknowledging the impact being felt by the Eight Mile community from odors that are the result of a 2012 chemical spill.

In a press release sent on Wednesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and the Mobile County Health Department say they have worked with state and federal agencies to examine adverse health effects from a 2012 mercaptan spill.

“Based on the current scientific evidence and available information, we believe that the community is affected by the odors. These odors may impact residents’ sense of well-being and quality of life. Mercaptan causes irritation to mucous membranes and has been associated with some of the symptoms reported by the residents of Eight Mile,” said ADPH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mary McIntyre.

The event that occurred in Eight Mile was caused by a lightning strike that led to a rupture of a mercaptan tank. A slow and gradual gas release was found to be tert butyl mercaptan, an odorant used in gas that can be smelled at very low levels. The odor, used to detect gas leaks, has been compared to the smell of rotten eggs.

The leak has been to blame for a poignant odor over the last several years, though the claim the smell is affecting the health of local residents has been debated.

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