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Residents of Swanson apartments to meet with Congressman about carbon monoxide leaks

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Posted at 8:01 AM, Aug 30, 2012
and last updated 2012-08-30 08:33:50-04

Concerns about carbon monoxide poisoning will be discussed today in Portsmouth. Some residents are meeting with Congressman Bobby Scott to talk about the widespread problem.

They're worried about carbon monoxide in their homes. A couple living at the Swanson homes died in June because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

And many of those apartment residents plan to tell the Congressman the problem is widespread. Inez and Leroy Stith were found inside their South Street home at Swanson Apartments -  victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.

A NewsChannel 3 investigation in July found over 60 instances in the past three years where fire and emergency crews responded to a potential gas leak or carbon monoxide calls at properties owned by the Portsmouth Housing Authority.

Of those instances, 27 apartments were found to have issues, and the fire marshall's office red tagged faulty equipment that led to the carbon monoxide or gas exposure.

Eighteen of those cases were in Swanson Apartments - where the Stiths lived.

According to maintenance records from the housing authority, 46 out of the 210 units at Swanson Apartments had reports of gas odor or actual gas leaks since January of 2011.

The executive director of the housing authority says that whenever an alarm sounds, the fire department comes out, and if something is red-tagged, it is fixed immediately.

While the housing authority's records did not show nearly as many carbon monixide emergencies as the the fire marshall's, they did confirm high readings of CO in three  additional apartments that fire crews did not respond to.

In those cases, the carbon monoxide detectors did not go off - just like in the case of the Stiths'. The residents there will be meeting with the Congressman at his Newport News office.

Their attorney says they'll ask Scott to help them obtain better carbon monoxide detectors, more reliable appliances, and better inspections of those appliances.