For weeks now, residents of Santa Fe Springs have complained about a rotten egg smell in the air coming from a defunct oil plant. Health officials confirmed the major source of the odor has been fixed. However, the smell might be coming from other tanks now. Hetty Chang reports from Santa Fe Springs for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2013.
The pungent, gas-like odor that has plagued Santa Fe Springs and nearby cities for months was still lingering Wednesday, despite numerous complaints and citations issued to the facility responsible for the smell.
“It pretty much smells like (an) outhouse truck pulled up in the front yard,” said David Fellhoelter, a Whittier resident.
While health officials confirm the odor does not pose a serious threat, some residents aren’t at ease.
Fellhoelter said the smell was so bad, that his wife ended up in the emergency room a few weeks ago after driving by the plant because she was experiencing chest pains and shortness of breath.
“I can’t actually say it’s from the exposure but what are the chances of an entire family having similar problems?” he said.
The sulfurous scent, which originates from a defunct oil facility belonging to Ridgeline Energy, first seeped out of a hole on the roof of a storage tank used to process industrial waste water, NBC4 first reported on July 30.
Since then, the damaged tank has been fixed, but the smell is now coming from two of the facility's nine other tanks, according to health officials.
This discovery, along with nearly 300 complaints by residents, prompted air quality officials to issue three citations to the company since late July, bringing its total to eight since April, according to Sam Atwood, spokesman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District.
Though Ridgeline has spent half a million dollars on repairs so far, Fellhoelter believes the company’s patchwork of the tanks is just a temporary fix to the problem.
“It’s absolutely a Band-Aid,” Fellhoelter said.
Symptoms of exposure to low-levels of sulfur and hydrogen sulfide include nausea and light-headedness, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).