UPDATE: The Kansas Department of Health and Environment tested a substance that authorities found spilled in an area at North Santa Fe and 7th Street in Salina.
Test results show that the substance is Mercaptan, an odorant used to give natural gas a recognizable scent.
KDHE says the substance poses minimal risk.
Homes and businesses, including a nearby daycare facility, were evacuated as a safety precaution. It is recommended that people consider keeping their doors and windows closed and limit outdoor activity where a strong odor is present.
Excavation and cleanup of the contaminated soil is expected to be complete Friday. Until cleanup is complete, nearby residents may experience very unpleasant or repulsive odors associated with this spill.
The source of the spill is under investigation.
Original Story, October 3
A container of old diesel fuel caused an evacuation in a Salina neighborhood. The haz-mat team discovered a 55 gallon drum of the fuel Wednesday morning. They say it was putting off a gas and causing some residents in the area to have headaches.
Homeowner Lewis Billings said that the container had been in his shed for some time. "It was a barrel that's been there for ten years," said Billings. "When I got the barrel it had diesel fuel in it. It just sat in the garage. I haven't messed with it or anything.
Tuesday night, Salina firefighters responded to the 1200 block of north 7th Street for a strange odor. Once on the scene, they were able to monitor the odor but couldn't find the source. The Kansas Gas Service also responded and spent the overnight hours monitoring the situation. However they were unable to find where the odor was coming from due to the windy conditions.
"Last night the winds were swirling so whenever they could get a path they were unable to trace it," Salina Fire Marshall Roger Williams said.
Wednesday morning, more people called 911 reporting an odor and complaining of headaches. That prompted several homes to be evacuated including a daycare while the haz-mat team looked for the source of the issue.
"I was coming around the corner," said resident Michelle Fears. "I was volunteering for the Salvation Army and we were coming home around the corner and I just got an instant headache. The fumes were really bad."
After doing a house by house search, they found the drum with the diesel fuel. They packaged it into a safe container.Billings said he bought the drum when gas prices were high for a reserve.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment was also called in to inspect the substance and do further testing.