Students evacuated due to odor

February 6, 2008 3:29:58 AM PST
A strong odor near schools has affected students, including sending one to an area hospital.The Houston Fire Department was dispatched to a reported gas leak just after 3 p.m. today in the area around 2400 Chew and 701 Solo in northeast Houston. According to HISD officials, there was a strong odor that smelled like a gas leak near Wheatley High School. Due to the time of day, school officials decided to evacuate students and dismiss classes early. Three students were treated for breathing problems at Wheatley High School. One student was taken to an area hospital.

At nearby Henderson Elementary, school leaders turned off the outside air intake and sheltered students in place. McReynolds Middle School in the area was not affected, and students were released at the normal time.

HazMat crews measured the air quality and found nothing. There were no indications of flammable or explosive gas. Entex also responded and found no indications of a gas leak.

Crews eventually traced the odor to a salvage yard at Japhet near Clinton Drive. The source of the smell is from Mercaptan. Mercaptan is the harmless, non-toxic chemical that is added to natural gas to make it easier to detect in case of a leak. Some people compare it to the smell of rotten eggs.

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