Kansas City's Palestine East neighborhood fuming about gas odors

Problem based on 10-year history with gas station
Posted at 2:36 PM, Jun 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-10 18:19:03-04

Some Kansas City residents are fuming. They say their state government has failed to fix a long-term gasoline odor problem.

Mark Murphy lives in a home on Cleveland Street just north of 31st Street in the Palestine East neighborhood. For the last couple of years, he says the smell of gasoline in his home and in his neighborhood has been overwhelming and worse on rainy days.
He says the source of that problem is the Inner City Oil gas station around the corner and just east of his property on 31st Street.
"If this release was on the Plaza or in other areas, they would've come in here and cleaned this up," Murphy said.
"If this was a more affluent area, I don't think we would've had to call a press conference to talk about why the attorney general and the Department of Natural Resources is refusing to come up to talk to people," said State Rep. Brandon Ellington.
The Attorney General's Office issued a sharp response to Ellington. It reads in part:

"Representative Ellington appears to be unaware of the facts.  Within two weeks of receiving a referral from the Department of Natural Resources alleging that Zill LLC had refused to take remedial action to address petroleum found in the neighborhood sewer lines, the Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit seeking to hold the station owner responsible. Since that time, representatives of the Attorney General’s Office have visited the site and met with constituents on two separate occasions to discuss the suit, including Attorney General Koster’s in-person visit in early September 2015."

"I believe government has intentionally ignored this area," said Ellington. "And I believe that's happening currently with the Attorney General's Office not sending people down here to talk to people about what's going on, the same with the Department of Natural Resources."
But records show Missouri state government has been actively dealing with the gas station for the last decade.
In 2006, new fiberglass tanks replaces steel ones. But gas contamination was found. More than 800 tons of soil were removed.
State records also show there have been 10 underground gasoline extractions since April, 2015. The most recent one took place this past January when liquid containing roughly 54 gallons of gas was extracted.
Despite that work, Brenda King, who's lived in the area for 50 years, says she smells the gas every time she rolls by the station on her motorized scooter.
"They say they're going to do something, but you got to stay on them. Will tell you they're going to do it, but see, it's not done yet. That's what they need to do. Who wants to go on smelling all this? Inhaling that in the air," said King.
Lane Burris works at an auto shop next to the gas station. He says the gas smell problem has been a persistent issue for about the last 3 years. Burris says each morning, he has to air out the shop to get rid of the gas fumes.
With reports of health issues from neighboring residents they believe may be associated with the gas fumes, Burris is concerned for his own health.
"Oh yeah, you have to be, but I just don't know, nobody is trying to correct the problem," he said.
"My concern is the gas station is still open selling gas," said Murphy. "Until the situation has been corrected, until they know who's liable, they should be shut down to save people in this community."
The 41 Action News Investigators spoke to the owner of the gas station on the phone who declined to give his name. He says the gas smell problem dates back 35 years when leaded gas was sold and before he owned the station. He claims he's followed all the rules and regulations since day one and has done nothing wrong.
He referred the 41 Action News Investigators to his attorney, who was unavailable for comment.