El Dorado Residents Concerned About Gas Odor

By: Phil White Email
By: Phil White Email

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

El Dorado residents were calling city hall and even 911 this week, concerned about unusual odors.

Butler County's emergency management director says the public was never in any danger.

"It was just a very potent, rotten egg smell," said El Dorado resident Randy Willson. "Not something that's normal. Not something you smell every day."

Willson has lived in El Dorado long enough to be familiar with smells emitted by the Holly-Frontier oil refinery there, so he was concerned when he noticed a more-pungent-than-normal odor earlier this week.

"I never felt like I wasn't safe, but you don't really ever know," Willson said.

Wilson said he called the refinery and was told the operation was burning off excess hydrogen sulfide.

Butler County Emergency Management Director Jim Schmidt said the odor was from a burn-off of that gas as well as sulfur dioxide.

"It's one of those typical refinery smells that when everything's in balance and working great, you'll never notice it," Schmidt said. "But get a little out-of-balance and you'll notice it."

Schmidt said the refinery made his agency aware of the situation, though the public was not in any danger.

He also said Holly-Frontier is a proponent of the county's reverse 911 system and has other instant-notification systems in place if there ever is an emergency.

"From siren warning systems there at the plant and the perimeter to making phone calls to people that live nearby, they're extremely safety-conscious out there," Schmidt said.

Willson said he would rather the refinery tell the public directly if anything unusual going on.

"If it wasn't harming anyone, wouldn't it be very easy to just say, 'Hey, it's not big deal. This is what it was,'?"

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