Neighbors Sue Plano Over Sewage Overflows That They Blame for Headaches, Nausea and Rashes

Four Plano residents are taking the city to court and demanding more than $1 million for illnesses and stress that they blame on overflows from the city's sewage system.Hooshang Kordy, Harold Kieke, Ailun Qian and Stephan Schmidt live in the Cross Creek neighborhood in west Plano, near Hoblitzelle Park. In a lawsuit filed in a Collin County court, they complained about sewage spilling from a toilet in one of their homes and from a nearby manhole. They alleged the city didn't help them with the cleanup. Several residents believe that air toxins are wafting into their homes and causing recent health problems such as severe nausea, headaches, dizziness and rashes, according to the suit.City officials said in a prepared statement that Plano has been working in good faith with the residents to find a viable and permanent solution to the odor problems."The city has implemented several corrective measures to mitigate the odors," the statement reads. "That includes bringing in experts to determine the exact cause of the odor and a subsequent $1 million construction project that started this month to improve the sewage line configuration that runs along Russell Creek. City staff will remain steadfast in our efforts to remedy the odor issue."Some parts of the sewage system in Plano are owned by the North Texas Municipal Water District. Michael Goldman, the attorney representing the Plano residents, said they haven't decided whether to add the water district to the suit.Residents alleged that they have been exposed to methane and hydrogen sulfide, a gas that smells like rotten egg and that can be detected by the human nose at very low concentrations. Plano determined that air toxins were coming from its sanitary sewer system and hired an engineering firm to assess the problem, but it hasn't been solved, according to the suit. "The city of Plano has taken only temporary stop-gap measures to address violations as they occur rather than implementing the necessary system-wide improvements," the lawsuit reads.In response to complaints, engineers hired by Plano measured hydrogen sulfide levels from late October through November 2015. A document posted on the city's website shows that measurements from several manholes indicated that hydrogen sulfide reached levels upwards of 100 parts per million on some days.That concentration can be deadly, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It can also cause problems like coughing, eye irritation, altered breathing and drowsiness.But Kevin Schug, a chemistry professor at the University of Texas at Arlington, told KTVT-TV (Channel 11) that the levels of gas in the neighborhood are likely much lower than those in nearby manholes.Plano tested the air quality in Cross Creek earlier this year and found that there were no levels of hydrogen sulfide that would raise concerns about harmful impact to residents' health, city spokesman Steve Stoler said in an email."The consultant that performed the tests reported 'very low concentrations not in the hazardous range,'" Stoler wrote.Measurements from late January through February on Crescent Creek Lane, the street where the plaintiffs live, show hydrogen sulfide concentrations of less than 1 part per million, according to a document released by the city. That is, except for a spike on the first day of testing due to the equipment adjusting to the environment, Stoler wrote.Goldman, the attorney, said he's not convinced the test results are correct.The Cross Creek residents claimed in the suit that the city has a long history of problems with its sewage system. They cited a leak in 2012, when bits of toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and baby wipes spilled from a manhole in Bob Woodruff Park. The overflow reached Rowlett Creek. Another sewage leak in 2016 flowed into Indian Creek, they said.  Continue reading...

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