Source of stink over El Segundo still isn’t pinpointed

first_imgBy Larry Altman STAFF WRITER An investigator spent Wednesday trying to figure out the source of a foul odor that drifted over El Segundo a day earlier, drawing 100 complaints from people with burning eyes and who were feeling lightheaded. Steve Tsumura, El Segundo’s environmental-safety manager, said he was checking all pressure-relief valves for leaks on gas lines at businesses in or around the city, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Scattergood Generating Station and the Hyperion Treatment Plant on Vista del Mar, the Chevron Refinery and the El Segundo Power plant. “I’m still looking at all the companies,” Tsumura said Wednesday afternoon. “We are basically trying to piece it all together.” Tsumura, who found no problems at Hyperion, also placed a call to the U.S. Geological Survey to check on any natural occurrences that could have resulted in the smell. A similar problem in 1995 was linked to ocean seepages. Residents and workers began noticing the smell about 1 p.m. Tuesday. Calls to the Fire Department emanated from the west end of the city and moved east as the odor shifted. “It smelled like gas, a really strong odor,” said Maria Barba, assistant manager at the Washington Mutual Bank branch on Grand Avenue. “My employees started feeling sick and lightheaded,” Barba said. “Everybody complained of burning eyes, lightheadedness. Everybody felt spacey.” Firefighters used fans to air out the bank while paramedics treated Barba and four employees. None required hospitalization. Boeing officials also called the Fire Department when workers detected the foul odor at their office in the 1000 block of Imperial Highway, spokesman Eric Warren said. Tsumura said it appeared that there were two separate releases of the gas around 1 and 2 p.m. Tina Cherry, a spokeswoman for the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said the agency sent an inspector to the Scattergood facility but did not find any problems. Marcella Low, a spokeswoman for The Gas Co., said workers were at Scattergood on Tuesday and concluded that the smell did not come from gas lines there. The possibility it was all an act of nature exists, too. On Nov. 3, 1995, a similar odor drifted over Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and Hawthorne. Dozens of residents called their fire departments. El Segundo firefighters checked their town’s businesses but found nothing to cause the problem. The Coast Guard detected a sheen on the water off 33rd Street and theorized it was caused by natural leakage of oil and gas from the ocean floor. A Coast Guard report at the time said the natural seepages of oil, gas and tar occurred in California since prehistoric times from Orange to Santa Barbara counties. Spanish missionaries reported them as early as 1776. [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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