Fumes stink up Solana Beach neighborhood on Oct. 22
By Claire Harlin
Staff WriterA community member’s attempt to rinse out a propane tank in his yard led to the voluntary evacuation of most of the homes on the 800 block of Juanita Street in Solana Beach on Oct. 22, said Jim Sturtevant, battalion chief of the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District, which encompasses Solana Beach.
Officials arrived on the scene around 11 a.m. to find people coming out of their homes covering their noses and mouths. What exactly was that smell?
Since propane is an odorless gas that is particularly harmful, a foul-smelling gas is added so people can recognize a leak. That additive is called methyl mercaptan, and those living around Juanita Street received a good smell of it that day.
Why did this neighbor choose to rinse a propane tank in his yard? Apparently, Sturtevant said, he attempted to recycle the tank but was told it must be rinsed with water.
The gas did enter the storm drain, but it was not as bad as it smelled, Sturtevant said. Officials from the San Diego County Hazardous Waste Division and the Department of Environmental Health arrived on the scene to test the waste, and their readings showed no indication of harm.