KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- There's something in the air in one east Kansas City neighborhood. Residents say it stinks in the South Roundtop neighborhood because the persistent smell of gasoline is making them sick.
One resident in that historic neighborhood said he feels stuck there. Documents show neighbors have complained about a gasoline odor since 2006, and they say it's causing them a lot of problems. They say it’s impossible to escape it – even while they're sitting in their own homes.
The underground gas storage tanks at an old convenience store were replaced in 2006. That's when Missouri's Department of Natural Resources responded to complaints about the stench, determining the smell was coming from the old tanks, which still had gas inside. However, the stink didn't clear up.
Willie Gaston has owned a home on Cleveland Avenue since the early 1990's. He says the smell is now so bad, he's had to spend many nights at hotels, since the gas smell in the air was making him ill.
“At night, it really blows through the house,” Gaston said. “You can't stay in there. It really hurts your eyes. Sometimes, it has you throwing up and different stuff like that.”
Across the street, Mark Murphy's complaints are the same. He recently looked on as a crew of workers came to evaluate the new tanks. He fears the pungent smell of gas in the air threatens to lower his property values.
“Had I known this situation here, which was known since 2006, I never would have invested this kind of time and energy into this property,” Murphy said.
FOX 4 News acquired correspondence sent from Kansas City Attorney Bryan Mouber, who represents Zill, Inc., the gas station property's owner to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It says Zill, Inc. doesn't claim liability for the gas odor, but it paid for plumbing repairs to several homes to try to alleviate the smell.
Joseph Jackson works with Kansas City's Historic East Neighborhood Coalition. He says residents continue to complain about unbearable air conditions, despite efforts to clean up the problem.
“Not a lot of stuff has been done to help people in this community,” Jackson said.
“In some cases, they're not even safe in their own homes. How do we begin to help them and the home they purchased is safe?”
FOX 4 News reached out to Apex Envirotech, an environmental cleanup company that's been working on solutions for this trouble, but we didn't hear back from their managers on Wednesday. Some residents said if the air doesn't clear up, they're going to have to move, an expense they say some of them can't afford.