St. Rose chemical plant yet to identify source of odor

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 13, 2014 at 5:22 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 16 at 5:45 AM

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

ST. CHARLES PARISH -- St. Rose residents say a strong, gas-like odor coming from a nearby plant is making them sick and they say it is only getting worse.

It's a story Eyewitness News first reported last Sunday and since then a local activist group says they have received over 22 complaints from residents who are suffering from the same symptoms.

Just across the street from Erica Bolden's house sits the IMTT chemical plant.

"If you hop two or three times you're there," says Bolden. "We are just that close to it, right next door."

Bolden says a gas-like odor coming from the plant continues to make her and her family sick.

"Your eyes started burning, your nose is irritated to where you can actually taste it," says Bolden. "My mom has asthma and she was getting nauseated to where she was vomiting."

Residents say the odor has only gotten more unbearable since they first noticed it a week ago. Bolden said, at one point, it got so bad she and her mother had to leave the house.

"I have never gotten 30 calls over the course of a couple of days, so yes this is a really alarming situation and it seems to me people should have been evacuated," says The Bucket Brigade Founding Director Anne Rolfes.

Ron Perry the Director of Emergency Preparedness for St. Charles Parish says his agency first got reports of the troubling odor on Saturday.

Since Monday, parish officials and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) have been in St. Rose testing the air quality and so far parish officials say the odor is more of a nuisance than a health concern.

"LDEQ indicates that there are no readings that are at an abnormal level with regard to air quality in this area," says Perry. "So nothing abnormal at this time and certainly nothing that would pose a threat to public health."

Officials say they are working with the IMTT plant to find the source of the odor.

IMTT has even brought in a worldwide expert to help identify the problem and fix it, but residents say their patience is wearing thin.

"Something needs to be done, it's coming from somewhere," says Bolden."It's coming from this plant."

Parish officials say they are meeting with IMTT again Saturday. So far, the plant has not identified the source of the odor and is now expanding its investigation.

In the meantime, The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, along with a private company, will be in the neighborhoods all weekend to monitor the air quality.

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