A smelly situation in west Tulsa

Tuesday, November 23rd 2004, 11:54 am
By: News On 6

Dozens of residents who live near Tulsa's Sinclair Refinery reported an unusually strong odor Tuesday morning and called the News on 6.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says an invisible blanket of intense odor drifted south of the Sinclair refinery.

Leona Booth, who works at a nearby business and says the smell was sudden and strong. "It smelled very noxious and heavy and thick." Her company thought it might be a gas leak.

Worried residents alerted the Tulsa Fire Department, which quickly determined the smell originated at Sinclair. Tulsa Fire Captain Adam Balogh: "They put steam through the pipes to clean out the pipes and that initial odor that everybody got was from that process."

A spokesman for Sinclair Oil says the smell was the result of routine maintenance and didn't dissipate as it should because of the weather. Both the plant and the fire department say the smell was offensive, but not dangerous. The refinery is replacing parts on a flare tower that burns off waste.

The cleaning process released more waste than usual - and the weather pushed the fumes down onto the neighborhood. Fire Captain Adam Balogh: "It's foggy, rainy, and the atmosphere kept the product that was released low instead of going high in the atmosphere.”

Leona Booth doesn't mind the occasional smell from the refinery, but she wishes someone would let the neighbors know. “Encourage someone next time if they could remember us in the community."

The fire department hazardous materials team detected ammonia and sulfur dioxide. Both can be harmful in high concentrations. In this case, the fire department says the levels were low and the odor lasted less than an hour.