Kansas City community fed up with underground gas leak

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A Kansas City, Missouri community fed is up with the effects of a metro gas station's underground gas leak is relieved to hear the attorney general is making moves to fix it.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster announced Wednesday he is suing the gas station for failing to clean up petroleum contamination caused by leaks in the station's old storage tanks buried underground.

The gas station involved is Inner City Oil Co., Inc., located on 31st Street between Mersington Avenue and Cleveland Avenue. It's owned and operated by Zill, LLC, which is the company listed in the lawsuit.

The people who live nearby told Fox 4 they've suffered the stench of the gas leak for years.

"The ground is contaminated," said Mark Murphy, a. "People are frustrated and they need some relief, they need some help."

Murphy said it's impossible to escape the sometimes overpowering smell of gasoline, which the Missouri Department of Natural Resources confirmed is permeating from the old tanks.

The department's environmental experts confirmed petroleum has seeped into the neighborhood's sewer system. In January, it issued a Declaration of Hazardous Substance Emergency to Zill. MDNR provided the company with specific remedial actions it was required to take to fix it.

However, the AG said Zill never followed through, refusing to adhere to the provisions in the approved work plans. That forced MDNR to conduct air testing and replace sewer lines that were allowing vapor fumes to enter several nearby homes.

The AG's lawsuit demands Zill take full responsibility for the leak, clean up and safety of affected residents. The suit also seeks to recover costs incurred by the state.

"I think it's really great," Murphy said. "I think the attorney general has stepped up to come to the aid of the people here in this community. I still want to see what's going to transpire with this lawsuit, to see if they really are going to help and start being responsible for the people's lives here."

Murphy said the lawsuit is a good start, but admits he's still skeptical of its demands since he's unsure if this gas leak can really be eliminated.

The gas station's manager declined to comment on the lawsuit and referred Fox 4 to his lawyer. We left a voicemail for his lawyer late Wednesday afternoon but have not heard back yet.