State regulators are investigating odor from a gas treatment plant in Ponder that homeowners say is sickening them.
Shondra Nichols said she has endured a nauseating stench from a gas treatment plant about a mile away from her Ponder home.
"It's [woken] me up at 3 a.m. in the morning to the point where i was vomiting," Nichols said. "I'm afraid to light a match outside for fear of it exploding."
Angela Peevey, her sister, said the smell "just bowls you over" when opening the front door.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigators confirmed the smell is coming from an Atmos Energy-owned and Kinder Morgan-operated plant that opened at the beginning of the year.
The treatment facility takes water and carbon dioxide out of natural gas in an adjacent gas pipeline.
Kinder Morgan said in a statement that it has received complaints about the odor.
"Our engineers, along with Atmos engineers, have been to the site and are working to identify any and all sources of possible odor emissions," the company said. "The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has also been to the site, and no violations were issued. We take pride in being a good neighbor and will do everything possible to eliminate any odors that can be prevented."
The TCEQ has conducted 11 air-sampling tests around the plant since June 3. While the plant has not received any violations, the test is ongoing, and the TCEQ is waiting on results.
Eight complaints about the odor were filed with the TCEQ during September and October.
Ponder Police Chief Robert Genova described the odor as "just offensive."
"Actually, it's been smelled in several parts of town," he said.
Genova described the stench as rotten eggs and said he thinks it has eased in the past several days.
But residents who live down the street from the plant disagreed.
Kelly Whitehead said she has become so ill that she resorts to sleeping on the floor to try to get away from the odor at the bed level.
"I've had so many symptoms, from migraines to having headaches all day long, nonstop, every day," she said. "There's houses on the other block going up for sale because of the smell."
Whitehead also said her children have been sick with sinus infections that she attributes to the smell.
"I've been out of school a bunch of times because I've had headaches," said her 17-year-old daughter, Brooke. "We think that it's coming from that certain one [plant] because when the winds blows in a certain direction, we can smell it really bad."
Homeowners said they simply want the plant's operators to tell them what they are doing to get rid of the smell.
"If there's a leak, plug it up permanently so we don't have this issue anymore, because it's causing a lot of health problems for all our neighbors," Kelly Whitehead said.
A Kinder Morgan spokesman said the plant does not use mercaptan injections, which give off an odor.
Mercaptan is used to detect gas leaks.
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