BURGETTSTOWN (KDKA) – The Cornerstone Care Clinic in Burgettstown has been shuttered now for two weeks since the last of incident involving powerful odors sent employees to the exits for the final time.
“So far we have not been able to identify what the actual stuff that’s making people sick is,” Rich Rinehart of Cornerstone said.
Since March, it’s rendered employees ill with nausea, burning eyes, sore throats and even rashes.
The state Department of Environmental Protection found no cause and the clinic conducted its own tests that came up negative.
Suspicion turned to a natural gas well being drilled less than a mile away.
“Obviously people are focused on the gas drilling activity,” Rinehart said. “We were trying hard not to make any unfounded conclusions about anything. We just want to get to the bottom of what this is and move on and get back to normal operations.”
Range Resources points to other potential sources, including a nearby zinc smelting operation and the clinic’s own toolshed with paint thinners.
Range Spokesperson Matt Pitzarella noted that clinic employees first noticed fumes last fall and Range didn’t start drilling until late March.
“So while my heart goes out to the folks that are there and we’re more than happy to help them and we’ve been working with them, it’s not a natural gas issue,” he said.
Meanwhile, State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil Township, chastised the state DEP for dropping the ball and not sending in gas and oil inspectors until the past few weeks.
“We have a government agency that says, ‘We’re the experts’ and apparently they’re experts at everything except answering their phone because we waited for two weeks and they didn’t show up and look.”
Barring further testing, the mysterious and sickening odor remains a mystery, but now at least the state seems fully engaged in trying to and an answer.