Mo. Atty. General files for prelim. injunction to require KC gas station clean up underground contamination

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KANSAS CITY, Mo.  -- Missouri's Attorney General is promising quick action to stop underground gasoline leaks that have drawn repeated complaints in the South Round Top neighborhood.

Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit against the owner of Inner  City Oil Company last month. On Tuesday Koster says the state asked a judge to force the station to start fixing the leaks immediately or stop selling gasoline.

"If there was a gas station that was leaking under the Country Club Plaza, if they were clearing out the restaurant at Capital Grille, it would take about a day to fix the problem," Koster said. "There's no reason that there should be any type of double standard in this community. All businesses are important."

Koster toured the neighborhood with U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who requested more forceful action from the state in July. The smell of gasoline permeates the area, even when you walk outdoors.

Neighbors have been complaining about the strong stench causing health problems since 2006. And the odor is so bad an entrepreneur who is starting a restaurant next door, says it's preventing him from opening his business.

"You can be in here and not smell it, but then as soon as you go outside you're wondering are these people are stressing me out?" said Brandon Dixon, the restaurant owner. "Are these workers stressing me out that bad that my head is hurting? No, I'm getting sick because I'm standing here and I'm smelling all of these vapors."

Koster says Inner City Oil has been dragging its feet on making repairs and the state is convinced there have been new leaks of gasoline from the station's holding tanks. Neighbors complain of headaches, nausea and other health problems.

Zill Incorporated, the property owner, has told the state it is not liable for the gas odor, but the firm has paid for plumbing repairs at several nearby homes to try to eliminate foul fumes.

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