RINCON, Ga. (WSAV) – A rancid smell in a neighborhood off Ebenezer RD. called Cobbleton has become so pungent, that residents say they believe it may be causing members of the community to be sick.
“Just about at least once a day you can smell it in this neighborhood and driving down the road, just about every day you can smell it during the day,” says Cobbleton resident Josh Corley.
In a release, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) says a chemical spill from the nearby DRT plant on Sept. 24, 2023 “resulted in odors that resulted in concerned citizens contacting EPD.”
Some Cobbleton residents tell me there has been a turpentine-like odor surrounding the neighborhood for around two years, but it’s been exacerbated since the chemical spill.
“It’s been pretty heavy off and on, it’s been pretty heavy in the last month or so I would say. There’s often times you wouldn’t wanna step outside,” says Cobbleton resident Jim Crockett.
The EPD says air samples were taken two days after the spill on Sept. 26 at the DRT, and they did not identify any public health concerns.
Then on Oct. 31, the EPD and EPA conducted a joint investigation at the DRT facility and the surrounding area, and the EPD said they “were not able to identify any strong odors coming from the DRT during any of the investigations.”
Though the EPD says they are going to continue to investigate, Corley says he is not confident things are going to change.
“Every time the smell gets in the neighborhood, they call, complain, we’re told something’s being done. Here we are two years later, worse now than it was a year ago,” says Corley.
The Coastal Health Division is also taking action, instructing people to report any sickness related to the spill.
Jim Crockett says he has heard his neighbors complain of suffering flu symptoms they believe are related to the spill, and he just wants the odor to go away for his safety and that of his neighbors.
“I would like to see the smell disappear, especially in the evening hours and the morning hours when it’s really heavy. It’s enough where it can drive you back into the house,” says Crockett.
No one that News 3 spoke with told us they have reached out to the health district with personal health problems.
News 3 also visited the health district’s branch in Effingham County to try to gauge how many people called to report illness. They were closed for the holiday.