Nacogdoches Co. officials will monitor bad smell

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, Texas (KTRE) - Residents in the eastern part of Nacogdoches County woke up Tuesday morning to a sulfuric odor in the air.

" I said, ' Eww, it made me sick', said Charles Williams a Sand Hill resident. " And I said, ' Eww, that sure is strong, whatever it is'. I didn't know."

Environmental health manager, Tommy Wheeler began sniffing around. " It smells like the additive that's put into natural gas to vie it an odor," described Wheeler.

That would be mercaptan, the smelly additive to odorless gas.

The odor could be smelled by some from the east loop of Nacogdoches to the Garrison/Chireno area.

Haz mat official Richard Lenius said he found no detection of an explosive level of natural gas in any part of the county. His crews conducted air monitoring tests in various locations.

"About one tablespoon of mercpatan dripped out on a highway would permeate about one mile away. You could smell it. It's very strong," said Lenius.

Constable Jason Bridges joined several groups, including ones led by Judge Joe English and sheriff's deputies to try to find the odor's source.

" We don't believe there's any immediate danger. We have a theory maybe what happened," said Bridges.

Despite all the drilling rigs and pipelines in the area, haz mat crews suspect something went wrong as mercaptin was being injected into a line leading to a house or business.

" I would imagine that either it vented at one of the pointer points or they might have spilled it," speculated Lenius. The theory has not been proven, but is likely.

Lenius said detection was more noticeable at night and in the early morning hours because the atmospheric pressure at that time pushes odor down.

By mid morning there was no smell. That allowed Williams to burn leaves, which emits a smell, but it doesn't alarm him or make him sick.

Lenius said should more calls come in this evening he will dispatch crews to conduct air monitoring tests, as it will be easier to detect the smell's source.

Lenius said a similar smell was detected in San Augustine about six months when a mercaptan canister had been dumped on the side of the road. The entire city could smell it, said Lenius.

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