Brian Scott, NBC 5 Denton County Reporter
A gas plant that Ponder residents said affected their quality of life is now gone, and they say they have NBC 5 to thank for being able to breathe easy again.
Residents of a Ponder neighborhood who complained of a nauseating smell from a nearby gas treatment plant say the odor is gone now that the facility is closed.
"This is a little slice of heaven today," Debra Owens said. "I like the breeze, and I like what I'm breathing."
She contacted NBC 5 in 2011 about the stench she believed was emanating from the Atmos Energy-owned and Kinder Morgan-operated plant on Robinson Road.
"Channel 5 News shed light -- that's really what got this thing cooking," Owens said.
Neighbors said crews removed most of the facility in the spring -- and the rotten-egg smell left, too. The plant is already overgrown with weeds and high grass.
Owens said in 2011 that her family and neighbors were dealing with health problems that they attributed to the plant. She estimated that problems started in late 2010.
"As soon as they turned on the 'on' switch, the smell started," she said.
Her daughter, Cassidy, attributed her off-and-on sickness to the odor.
"My immunity completely dropped," she said in 2011. "I became allergic to everything. I broke out in rashes over and over again."
Other residents complained of vomiting and asthmatic reactions from the smell.
Owens said the health issues for most people have disappeared since the odor went away.
"They just couldn't get it fixed," Owens said. "We stayed on top of the TCEQ, and I guess our efforts paid off.”
Texas Commission of Environmental Quality reports in 2011 showed that between seven and 10 toxins tested at or slightly above detectable levels in the air. The most concerning was benzene, which can produce a variety of health side effects if individuals are exposed to it long term.
At the time, the agency offered nothing definitive in terms of a connection between the plant and health concerns.