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I-Team: Plano Testing Air For Hazardous Gas As Neighbors Complain About 'Awful Smell'

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PLANO (CBS11 I-TEAM) - The City of Plano is testing the air quality in the Cross Creek neighborhood after the CBS11 I-Team began raising questions about whether it was safe to breathe.

For years, residents have complained to the city about a "rotten egg smell" in their neighborhood.

"You can't ignore it," said homeowner Tami Stepp. "It's just awful."

Plano's Public Works Department said what residents smell is hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, coming from poorly designed sewer lines in the area.

Plano air quality concerns
Sewer lines in Plano's Cross Creek neighborhood (CBS11)

"The alignment of the sewers in this area is not very good," said Plano's Public Works Director, Gerry Cosgrove.

At high concentrations, H2S can be extremely dangerous to breathe and can lead to numerous health issues.

Homeowner Hashoong Kordy said he can smell the gas, not just outside, but inside his home. He said he believes the near constant odor is the reason he's had more health problems in the past couple years.

"I've gotten sick many times," he said. "I'm sure there is (a connection)."

Kordy said the odor comes into his home from his toilets.

"I have to flush the toilet 50 times a day… just to get rid of the smell for a while," he explained. "It works for like an hour then it keeps coming back."

Cosgrove said the city has been aware of the smell for nearly a decade and said it's become worse in recent years.

"This is a situation that is not acceptable to the city," he said.

The city has tried to fix the smell; first installing carbon air filters and then sealing the manhole covers.

Plano manhole cover
Plano manhole cover in Cross Creek neighborhood (CBS11)

Nothing so far has worked.

In February, construction will begin on a nearly $1 million project to dig up and reconfigure the sewer lines in the neighborhood along Russell Creek.

The City of Plano tested the air quality in the neighborhood back in 2015. The H2S levels the city reported from inside the manholes were three and four times above what the federal government (OSHA) considers an extreme health danger.

The CBS 11 I-Team showed the results of the city's testing to University of Texas- Arlington chemistry professor Dr, Kevin Schug.

Schug said the levels found inside the manholes could be "potentially deadly," but noted the gas levels in the neighborhood are likely much lower than those in the nearby confined manholes.

However, Schug said the H2S can spread into the neighborhood and the levels in the neighborhood should be monitored.

The City of Plano had never tested the air quality in the neighborhood.

Plano air quality concern
Cross Creek neighborhood in Plano where residents are concerned about air quality (CBS11)

Cosgrove said, "We haven't done that but we've talked about it and are probably going to do that now."

Less than a week the public works director said this to the CBS 11 I-Team in an interview, the city began testing the air in the neighborhood.

Four air monitors have been set up in the neighborhood along Russell Creek south of Hedgcoxe near Custer Rd.

For the next couple weeks, the monitors will be recording of levels of the hazardous gas - hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

"We are going to do everything possible to find out if it is or not (dangerous)," said Cosgrove. Hopefully it's not, and then we are going to do everything possible to fix it."

Tuesday night, the City of Plano will be meeting with neighbors to answer questions they might have about the air testing as well as the city's plan to fix the sewer lines. Work on pipelines is set to start in February.

(©2017 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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