Officials continue to investigate mystery odor in Vallejo that sickened dozens

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ByVic Lee KGO logo
Thursday, September 22, 2016
Officials continue to investigate mystery odor in Vallejo that sickened dozens
Officials still don't know if two oil sheens on the San Pablo Bay are to blame for a foul odor that prompted hundreds of calls last night and sent some to the hospital.

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- Crews are busy cleaning up two oil sheens Wednesday afternoon in San Pablo Bay. The first, about a mile long and 40 yards wide, was spotted in north San Pablo Bay. It interrupted ferry service for a while between Vallejo and San Francisco.

A worker at the Phillips 66 Refinery in Rodeo spotted the second sheen Wednesday morning, surrounding a tanker

RELATED: Tanker berthed at Phillips refinery may be cause of sheen in San Pablo Bay

Teams from Baykeeper and the state Fish and Wildlife Department were investigating.

Officials still don't know if the spills are responsible for a foul odor that prompted hundreds of calls last night. The foul stench made some people sick and sent them to the hospital.

RELATED: Mystery odor in Vallejo prompts shelter-in-place

Although there's an assumption the strong odor may have come from the sheen off the refinery, there has been no definitive conclusion that the two were linked. Whatever the case, a lot of people in Vallejo smelled it and were sickened.

Nervous residents, many wearing masks, poured into emergency rooms at Vallejo's two hospitals.

"About a 100 people showed up, went to hospitals in Vallejo, either Sutter or Kaiser with symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness," said Solano County Health Officer Mike Stacey.

Countless others smelled the strong odor but didn't go the ER.

"All outside and inside the house was starting to smell.

By 8:02 p.m., the fire department had received more than 500 calls from people complaining about the mysterious smell. People described it differently.

"It smelled more like asphalt, like someone was putting on new roofing," said Vallejo resident Nancy Johnson.

"Like if you were to burn something in your frying pan just like you had the oil sitting in there," said Vallejo resident Chelsea Axley.

"It smelled like gas," another resident said.

But all agreed that it was a very strong odor.

Everyone was talking about the smell at a Vallejo this senior citizens center.

Mildred Foster has asthma. "Nausea, my eyes was burning. My nose was burning. Stuffed up," Foster said.

Lengyel Agbabiaka said he had a rough night. "My oxygen machine takes air to generate oxygen and I could smell it. I had to take the mask off. I couldn't sleep last night," Agbabiaka said.

By 11 p.m. the fire department determined the odor was not coming from within the city. The mystery continued.