An anonymous complaint has been sent to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about the smell at a North Port school. Staff at Lamarque elementary have been complaining about what they believe is sewer gas causing headaches and nausea.
Something stinks. "Frankly what they have been experiencing for some time now is a sewer smell."
A letter sent to OSHA by an anonymous source says the problem has gone on since the school opened in 2005. Wednesday we were told the schools principal and everyone else there was busy. Scott Lempe is chief operating officer for the district. "We have spent a lot of energy just troubleshooting what is causing that sewer smell to come into the building. Much like your car you start with the cheapest thing and work your way up."
Lempe says the smell is impacting a number of classrooms. He says they've replaced toilets and seals. reworked air intakes and exhausts, cleaned grease traps in the kitchen, checked for Chinese drywall and smoke tested the pipes a half a dozen times. "We would smoke test it and find a small problem here or there. Fix that problem and the smell goes away. Two months later the smell is back."
The letter indicates staff has had symptoms like headaches, dizziness, nausea, tiredness, and breathing irritation. A health department official was sent in September and was unable to smell the odor. "No indications yet there what was in that air was every unhealthy. We continue to monitor it today."
District officials tell us work was done here this past weekend in hopes of solving the mystery. "We did a number of things. We pressure tested with smoke the sewer lines again and found several small leaks."
They've now built in pressure relief pipe away from the school while using cameras to examine waste lines. Around $15,000 worth. They are also working with environmental consultants,plumbers, and testers. So far spending more than $63,000. Hoping they have finally sniffed out the problem. "We are cautiously optimistic. If two weeks go by and we have had some changes in the weather and still no smell back then I will feel a whole lot better that we have solved the problem."
However, Wednesday evening ABC 7 has learned the smell is back. Leaving officials looking for the next answer.
In the meantime students and teachers who would normally be in the classrooms effected have been placed in portables on campus.