Frustrations mount as St. Rose plant struggles to identify odor

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Jaclyn Kelley / Eyewitness News
Email: jkelley@wwltv.com | Twitter: @jkelleyWWL

ST. ROSE, La. -- After nearly two weeks, officials still cannot pinpoint the cause of a mysterious odor making St. Rose residents sick.

This week Mother Nature did, however, provide some much needed relief to residents, but frustration is growing because the chemical plant causing the stink has failed to offer any explanations.

Residents in St. Rose still do not know why an unexplainable odor is making them sick. It is a question that has officials scrambling for answers.

"We want to reinforce with all residents of St. Charles Parish that they have a right to enjoy the use of their property and their home unobstructed," says Ron Perry, the director of emergency preparedness for St. Charles Parish.

Shell Asphalt and International Matex Tank Terminals' join operations facility, which produces asphalt, is the suspected culprit. However, parish officials are not happy the chemical plant still cannot pinpoint the cause of the odor.

"The parish shares the frustration of the residents and I think a greater sense of urgency to get to the root cause of this problem needs to be exhibited," says Perry.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality continues to use its mobile air monitoring lab to monitor the odor and air quality in the nearby neighborhoods.

Thanks to the weather, officials say symptoms and complaints are down drastically compared to last week.

"The change in the winds has had a benign affect on the neighborhoods to the east, and since the winds have shifted, the valid calls have ceased," says Perry.

Ferdneit Bailey, the center coordinator at St. Rose Community Center, says she has seen major improvements, especially among the young kids that attend the center's summer camp.

"This week the air quality is totally different," Bailey said. "I am not hearing any complaints about random stomach aches or headaches."

Lee Lemond, with the DEQ, is leading the agency's investigation into the mysterious smell.

Lemond said one major reason it is taking so long to find the source of the odor has to do with the type of pollutants in the air.

"Sulfur compounds are notoriously known to have a low odor threshold," says Lemond. "So you can smell them well before most instruments can detect it."

Even though officials still do not know where the smell is coming from, they say the neighborhoods' air quality readings are meeting standards and show no threat to the community.

 

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