Is poisonous gas causing foul smell on Hayden Island?

Some residents say foul odor in the air is making them sick

The EPA says its detected a poisonous gas in Hayden Island's air, May 2, 2016. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Hayden Island residents have complained for months about a foul smell lingering in the air, and now the Environmental Protection Agency says air quality tests came back positive for signs of a poisonous gas.

The EPA tells KOIN 6 News it found approximately 8 short term detections of hydrogen sulfide on the island over a 60 day period when the tests were conducted.

Some neighbors believe whatever is behind the smell is making them sick.

“I’ve experienced burning, bloody sinuses 3 or 4 times,” Hayden Island resident Steve Putnam said. “And headaches that you have to leave the property to get right.”

Now the EPA and Department of Environmental Quality are investigating 2 nearby companies that recycle used oil. Both are in compliance with DEQ guidelines.

“On site we have an odor log,” Oil Re-Refining Company’s CEO Bill Briggs said. “We’re here all the time. We know that we’re not producing anything that’s going off site.”

Briggs says hydrogen sulfide is in some material his company recycles, but scrubbers at the plant reportedly take the necessary measures to keep it from emanating.

Still, some Hayden Island residents are going after ORRCO and other companies to change their guidelines. They’re convinced the facilities are causing their suffering.

“The fact that the Oregon DEQ’s annual budget is $320 million a year, I would like to get something for my money,” Putnam said.

Residents are still waiting for the EPA to release full results from its tests.

The agency says it doesn’t expect serious health effects from what was discovered, although certain levels of hydrogen sulfide can cause short-term, reversible or transient health effects like headaches and very unpleasant odors.

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