What is that smell? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

What is that smell?

CORDELE, GA (WALB) -

The skunky smell was the result of a chemical explosion in Crisp County overnight. Barrels full of a chemical used to make an insecticide overheated, and the tops blew off, releasing the chemical.

The weather conditions spread the odor across South Georgia and even into Alabama. Drexel's manager was in the process of trying to neutralize the odor, however he the scene was cleaned up, but even he was shocked the odor traveled so far.

If you step outside, you can't help but notice the terrible odor in the air; Folks from Crisp County all the way to Alabama got a whiff.

And the cloudy conditions explain why the smell stuck around in some spots most of the day. "The product is very aromatic, it gets an odor in the air and everyone gets concerned about that," Crisp County Fire Rescue Chief Ray Lunsford.

The odorous chemical called Dimethoate, and it's used in insecticide here at Drexel Chemical Company. Early this morning, two dozen 55 gallon drums filled with pellets of the chemical were heating in a bath in an effort to liquefy the chemicals. "Apparently they got too hot, and the lids blew off them," Lunsford said. The chemical sprayed out onto the concrete and released a skunky smell into the air.

An off duty captain with Crisp County Fire Rescue was the first to report the smell around 1 30 this morning. "It was more of a farm chemical smell and they traced it back to Drexel Chemical."

Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and GEMA were notified and local fire fighters and law enforcement officers stayed on scene for hours to monitor the situation. Workers were able to clean things up by ten this morning Chief Lunsford says it's a respiratory irritant, and folks with certain conditions should stay inside.

"It's not going to kill you by breathing it in, but if you have any kind of respiratory illness you should stay inside." The chief says he heard a few people went to the hospital due to the smell. "We are disappointed it got as far as it did, it got all the way to Alabama."

But aside from the smell, it is not considered a public health hazard. Company officials are traveling in from Memphis and will be on site tomorrow. Dimethoate is used to kill various insects.

It's sprayed on fruits and vegetables cotton, tobacco, ornamentals, olives and sunflowers. And aside from the unpleasant odor, the fire chief says it only poses a risk to folks with any respiratory illness.

He advises those people to stay inside. "Farmers use it quite often, it's used to make insecticide, and they usually use solvents to break it down. This was in a solid form, pellets, and they were going to liquefy it."

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