KC neighbors blaming gas fumes for health problems continue push to get problem fixed

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Neighbors continue to demand action. An odious stench of gasoline has been a decade-long problem, and they’ve started to up the pressure in hopes of a solution.

Now a Kansas City gas station’s owners have hired workers to test the area for possible sources of the odor.

The smell of gasoline fills the neighborhood off 31st and Cleveland. It’s coming from the Inner City Oil station. The strong stench is not the only problem.

“It’s killing people slowly and no one seems to care," said Sheraldine Joseph, who used to fill up her gas tank at Inner City Oil.

The State Department of Natural Resources says more than 50 locations across Kansas City have leaky underground storage tanks. Inner City Oil station is one of them.

Missouri's attorney general filed a lawsuit in 2015 asking a judge to force the gas station to start fixing the problem or stop selling gas. Neighbors are only slightly relieved to see the gas station owner – Zill, LLC – will finally take action.

“We have a lot of children in this area. They don’t deserve to be poisoned before they can grow up,” said Harriet Minor. Minor used to live in the nearby neighborhood.

Zill workers are testing three areas: the auto shop next door, Smaxx restaurant, and a neighborhood lot. Zill is represented by Bryan Mouber, who said they’ve identified possible sources of pollution that have had underground storage tanks in the past. Neighbors blame the fumes for causing health problems.

“I started having migraines and headaches,” said Ricardo Wade who has lived down the street with his family for 65 years. He said that’s how long his basement has been filled with a strong gasoline odor. He blames the fumes for the cancer that killed his father and sister. He and his mom are also fighting a plethora of health issues.

He said there isn’t enough money to relocate.

Several neighbors say family members have died of cancer that they think is connected to the underground gas leak. Now they’re hoping to fix the problem before children are affected.

Zill, LLC has told the state it is not liable for continued gasoline odors.

The firm told the Department of Natural Resources that it has spent more than $100,000 recently to reduce or eliminate human exposure to petroleum vapors.