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Residents complain debris causing respiratory problems - KOAM TV 7

Residents complain debris from old Joplin hospital is leading to respiratory problems

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Some Joplin residents are concerned about a dump site where debris from the old Saint John's Hospital is being hauled.

Residents living nearby the Bullfrog Mine are complaining that dust from the site is affecting their health.

The concerns have been brought to the attention of city, state and federal officials but residents say nothing is being done to fix the problem.

They are now threatening to get the law involved.

Richard Martinous' parents have lived in their home next to Bullfrog Mines for 54 years.  He says since the area became the dump site for debris from the old Saint John's Hospital his parents along with other nearby residents have been suffering.

"You could be out here and just taste the dust," says Martinous.  "We've had a neighbor that has had to go to the doctor because she was spitting up blood.  The doctor confirmed it was because of the dust, absolute confirmation.  My mother has been ill, hacking and coughing."

"Anything in the atmosphere, whether it's dust, concrete dust, can definitely be an irritant, but that does not pose a long term health risk," says Dr. Sean Smith of Mercy Hospital.

"I'm glad they can say that, so I guess everyday that you go out there and this is continuing to go on, they have to live with a sore throat every day of their lives," says Martinous.

We contacted Joplin city officials who say they have not found any violation of city codes.  Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency say the same thing, as do officials with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, who already sent inspectors out last week.

"The inspectors have not found any violations at the site but they did talk to the owner about potentially watering down the area to help reduce the amount of dust that may potentially be stirred up during the process," says Renee Bungart from DNR.

Martinous says he has yet too see any water trucks on the site and is planning to now take legal action.

"I'm going to make sure that my parents do not have to live the rest of their lives at 87 and 94 years old with these blatant violations that are occurring," says Martinous.

According to DNR officials the owner and operator of the mine is Dennis Neely.  They tell us if Neely does not contain the dust onto his own property he would then be in violation and possibly cited.

They also say this is a clean air operation, meaning no contaminated substances are being dumped.

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