by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster
My friend Dave sent me some articles today and two of them included links to articles previously published in the Star Beacon about nasty smells emanating from someplace not far from State Road. The article reported the stench smelled like, “cat urine/ammonia,” and additionally reported there had been over 100 complaints since June.
In a later story Mike Settles, Ohio EPA spokesman, named Detrex/ Elco Corp., 1100 State Road had been issued a notice of violation, “after a number of citizens complained.” Settles further, helpfully, noted the company had, “14 days to respond with a written plan of action.”
But the article went on to quote the claim by Detrex/Elco's operations manager, Mike Steib, “the company is in compliance.”
You could see the folks from the EPA looking at each other, waiting to see someone 'fess up to making the smell. The 'investigation' was still ongoing.
Comments in the paper were far more pointed, including, “ashtabula area has been a dumping ground that has been ignored for at least 70 years,we have never had any really politicians or inspectors in any dept. clamp down on these irresponsible polluters. personally i believe thats why our area seems a liitle slow if you know what i mean.”
Reports of visits to the Emergency Room, passing out due to the smell, moving out of the area, cancer clusters, and being ignored by the EPA were also included in the long thread of commentary.
But there were a few points which were overlooked, which should be kept in mind. The EPA has precisely one monitor in Ashtabula County. It is located in Conneaut, miles from the source of the problem. The specific substances for which monitoring takes place are very limited.
Also, the complaints have focused on the scent, which implies a substance which is unpleasant and is picked up by the olfactory senses. This brings up other issues. First, substances such as Manganese are not monitored by the station in Conneaut. Second, one of the substances which we know is emitted is Carbonyl Sulfide. When this hits water, for instance in your nose or mouth, it becomes Hydrogen Sulfide, which deadens the olfactory receptors. So, you may well be inhaling something toxic which has no smell – or be unable to smell something which is toxic.
So now you can stop worrying about the smell, it is the least of our problems.