Galena Park investigating reports of strong foul odor

Lileana Pearson Image
Tuesday, April 4, 2023
Galena Park investigating reports of strong foul odor
The city of Galena Park is looking into reports of a strong foul odor in several neighborhoods along the Houston Ship Channel overnight.

GALENA PARK, Texas (KTRK) -- The city of Galena Park is looking into reports of a strong foul odor in several neighborhoods.

Our newsroom received calls about the odor at about 10:20 p.m. on Monday and had yet to hear from the city about what caused the smell, or if people should be worried about their health, until the end of ABC13's 5 p.m. newscast on Tuesday.

ABC13 was told this was going on along the Houston Ship Channel.

The Galena Park fire chief told ABC13 outside of city hall that the smell wasn't typical for the area and described it as similar to burning tires.

The chief said there were no fires in the area, the refineries aren't claiming the smell, and all air readings came back normal. So, now it's out of the city and county's hands.

Still, residents worry the smell is a cause for concern. Eyewitness News spoke to a few residents who live in the area near several refineries.

"It smelled like sulfur and like an eggy smell," Lei Gonzales, a resident, said. "When we came outside, it burned our nostrils. My partner and cousin have asthma, and when they came outside, they started coughing."

Initially, Galena Park police advised people to stay indoors and turn off their air conditioners.

"A lot of people were experiencing headaches and nausea, so we came out to see what was going on, and there was a really strong odor," Ricardo Mendez, a Galena Park resident, said.

City officials later posted to social media, saying based on wind speed and the quality index reported by the city's fire department, "Everything has passed."

Despite the social media warning, many residents told ABC13 they had no idea about the shelter in place.

"No. We tried to look it up online, on Google, trying to see if there was anything," Gonzales said.

With no direction from the city, neighbors told ABC13 they assumed it was from a nearby refinery.

"It's uncommon to see flares on the refineries, and (Tuesday) there were two really, really big (flares)," Mendez said.

"If it is the refineries, they should be held accountable," Gonzales said.

ABC13 made several requests with nearby refineries to learn if they were aware of the odor or where it came from, but we have not heard back. We've also reached out to the police and the fire department but were once again pointed back to city hall.

It's a frustrating circle, as Galena Park has seen before.

"It has happened before. Unfortunately, I think that we live in the area where there's a lot of refineries, and there have been times when, like, strong odors, different types of odors," Mendez said.

The Office of Emergency Management says they will continue to monitor the situation.

Many people Eyewitness News spoke with off camera said this is Galena Park, and the bad smells just come with the city, but others argue that should not be normal, and they want to work and live in a community that puts their residents and their health first.

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