EIGHT MILE, AL — “When methane started leaking out of a well at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility outside Los Angeles last October, noxious fumes blanketed the nearby Porter Ranch neighborhood for months. Residents complained of nausea, nosebleeds and vomiting; more than 8,000 families were forced out of their homes by the stench of the chemical odorant added to natural gas to help detect leaks.
Two thousand miles away, in a poor Alabama community, residents are complaining of similar symptoms after lightning struck equipment at an underground pipeline. An estimated 500 gallons of the same chemical spilled into the soil and groundwater, according to state environmental officials.
But, unlike in affluent, predominantly white Porter Ranch, residents in Eight Mile have been largely ignored, stuck for eight years with the stifling rotten egg stench that still hovers over the low-income, mostly African American enclave just north of the Gulf of Mexico.
Residents say there have been no relocations to hotels or rented homes. No transfers to schools out of harm’s way. No U.S. Cabinet members swooping in to investigate. No national media hordes.
‘Because we don’t have the financial wherewithal to put pressure on these people, they simply turn their heads,’ said Eight Mile resident Carletta Davis, one of hundreds of people suing Mobile Gas Service Corp. over the leak of the chemical mercaptan. ‘Our children are sick…. It’s absolutely an outrage.'”
— Ivan Penn, The Los Angeles Times