Monroe Township, Wyoming County -- "You could smell it coming down here while you're talking to me," said Charles Malarkey. With the Chapin Hydration Station in the background of his Herdman Street home, the Monroe Township man pointed out a problem stemming from his Marcellus gas industry neighbor. The odor of the gas additive mercaptan, which gives gas its smell, still remained in the air Thursday afternoon. Mr. Malarkey says it was nothing compared to earlier in the week. "It was so strong out here you couldn't even stand it. I mean I don't know if it's gas or whatever chemical is leaking out of that thing." 16-year-old Owen Ide lives just downhill from the Chapin station. "I opened the door to let the dog out and let all this very smelly, propaney (sic) gas and it smelled really bad," he said.
Emergency responders were called out three times this week to the Chapin Station after smoke at the facility while workers relighted a flare for the natural gas dehydration process. Crews also dealt with an apparent mercaptan release into the atmosphere. For families like the Ides and Malarkeys, it's more than just the fear of what they smell and hear. It's also the concern of what's really behind it. They claim they're left in the dark. Mr. Malarkey said, "I don't know what's in the air, if I start my car up or something like that a spark. I mean it was so strong out there." Mr. Ide added, "They never told us to evacuate, like, whatever we should do when anything happens or anything like that."
State Representative Karen Boback (R) 117th District says enough is enough. "I want an investigation. I want to know what's happening." Rep. Boback sent a letter Thursday to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Christopher Abruzzo calling for an immediate and complete investigation and inspection of the Chapin plant. "What is happening. What is not happening. People need to know. They need peace of mind," said Rep. Boback.
DEP Northeast Regional spokesperson Colleen Connolly says DEP inspectors checked out the Chapin Dehydration Station this week and found no air quality violations. The DEP Northeast Regional office did not receive a copy of Rep. Boback's letter which she sent to Harrisburg.