Eww, Eww That Smell!
Summary: Some area residents discover that the foul smell billowing from a nearby sewage plant is toxic. Reporter: Mary Robb Jackson, KDKA Channel 2 When It Aired: Nov. 20 Running Time: 2 minutes, 34 seconds Visuals: * A street sign that reads, "Devils Den Road," where residents were interviewed. * A graphic with skull and crossbones that asks, "What are they breathing?" Highlights: * When anchor Ken Rice posits, "It's not just a smelly problem [but] also a dangerous one, and the deadline to fix it has come and gone. People living in ... Hanover Township, Washington County, have been gagging on ... a gas that can cause serious health problems." * When a woman says of her 13-year-old son, "He's missed excessive amount of schooling due to being ill." * When Jackson sketches in the background for the story: "Like her neighbors .... [this woman and her son] have been living with the stench of rotten eggs for months. She knew the foul smell was coming from the nearby ... sewage-authority pumping station. But last night, she turned on her TV and learned that they are breathing hydrogen sulfide, a colorless, toxic, flammable gas." * When the woman reveals, "We were never notified from anybody." * When Helen Humphrey of the state's Department of Environmental Protection confirms, "It's dangerous." * When Jackson elaborates that the state "has been monitoring the situation since September, when it ordered the sewage authority to correct the problem by installing temporary equipment to reduce fumes by Friday." * As Jackson walks past the fenced pump, "Now, it's Friday afternoon. The smell of sulfur is still in the air, and as you can see, nothing is going on here to stop that." * When Jackson details, "The authority says getting a temporary fix had to be bid out [and will be implemented] the first week of December. A permanent fix will be ready in six to eight weeks. The cost? $80,000." * When Jackson summarizes, "The authority says it realized that the gas is potentially harmful only last month, and understands the neighbors' anger." What We Learned: Trust your instinks. Unanswered Question: What's next? A leak at Three Mile Island? Oh, wait ... News Value: 7. Well-presented and -- unbelievably, considering it's sweeps month -- not over-hyped. (Well, except for that skull-and-crossbones.) It also brings to light a broader issue: People have a right to know when the fumes they are breathing are toxic. And they shouldn't have to find out about it from the TV news.