In back of the AM/PM gas station located at 707 E street, within the city limits of Marysville, sits a room-sized metal purifier that emits chemical fumes into the air from its large steel chimney.
According to Bonita Steers, Hazardous Materials Specialist of Yuba County’s Air Pollution Control, the purifier is a ground water treatment unit. Such a unit is needed, according to Steers, because throughout every county in the state a degree of ground contamination at gas stations is found.
Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires that all gas stations have these purifiers.
Hanging from a fence that surrounds the purifier, a small white sign warns that in and around the facility are chemicals known “to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.” Anyone in or around this facility is at high risk of chemical-related cancer causing illness.
According to Steers, Proposition 65 requires such notices be posted, but the City of Marysville Planning Department approves the location of the purifier.
Residents are concerned about vapor exposure and noise pollution.
A nineteenth century three-story Victorian home looms over the purifier next door, behind the gas station. The home is owned by an elderly gentleman, Mr S. Henry, a lifelong resident of Marysville.
Mr. Henry, in his late 60’s, said, “I don’t know what that thing is; no one ever asked me if it was alright to build it. One day I got a letter about some study, and the next thing I knew, it was there. But no one ever asked me if it was alright to build it.”
Mr. Henry continued, “I’ll tell you though, I get a lot of complaints about my roof, porch and fence, and even fined. But no one says anything about that thing (purifier) making noise all night long and throwing fumes into the air.”
Mr. Henry blames those who don’t have to live in the area for the decision to erect the purifier. “They come here with their money and do what they want,” he said.
Next to Mr. Henry’s Victorian home is an alley and another three story home at 415 Seventh Street, Marysville, where Ms. Verna Henry and her family live. She is Mr. Henry’s daughter and also owns the Estates Collectable Antique store next door.When asked how long the purifier had been there, Ms. Henry said, “About a year and a half. I don’t remember when they gave notice. My Dad didn’t know about it. I find it amazing that the city would allow it.”
“It was a funny thing,” Ms. Henry continued. “This letter came in the mail. Not more than a month later, there it was humming all night at 2, 3, 4 o’clock in the morning. The letter said cancer risk goes up for every person in the area.”
Ms. Henry says that she can hear it in all of her rooms and complains that its hum is too loud. “I can hear it in my bedroom; it hums and roars. I find it amazing that the city ould allow them to build it right in the middle of town.”