The search continues.
For the smell of gasoline.
On Frances Street in northwest Seymour.
“Needless to say, this is an issue of high priority,” City Administrator Hillary Gintz said Monday afternoon. “From the city’s perspective, we’ve dedicated a lot of resources to this issue. At the same time, ultimately we’re just a helping agency in this matter. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is the lead agency.”
The issue became a serious one in the city of Seymour on Veterans’ Day weekend in early November, about a month ago, when Frances Street resident Frances Davis detected the smell of gasoline in her home.
Source of the smell was the city’s sewer line entering Davis’ residence.
“Our (city) guys checked it out, then we immediately contacted DNR,” Gintz said. “They’ve been here ever since.”
That was a month ago.
In the interim, the DNR, often with the help of city crews, has exhaustively searched for the source of the gas smell.
“The DNR has dug at several locations,” Gintz explained.
“They’ve dug test holes. Our guys have dug test holes for them, as well.”
And the result?
“(The DNR field representative) says they’ve discovered nothing conclusive,” Gintz noted.
“We realize that the situation isn’t getting better. In the end, DNR has the staff trained to determine exactly what’s going on and what the problem is on Frances Street.”
But time has a price for the city.
A price tag that grows daily.
Gintz noted that the diesel-powered air compressor on Frances Street used to eliminate the gasoline fumes from the sewer line burns 40 gallons per day. That’s $100 a day for diesel fuel that the city has to pay.
Moreover, the compressor that came on the scene with 76 total hours now has nearly eight times that many hours on its meter. The machine’s wear and tear is starting to show as several repairs have been made over the past month.
“We hope to replace that (compressor) by week’s end with a new electric model,” Gintz said.
“The DNR is providing the new fan. However, the city does have to pay for the electric to run it.”
The benefit of the electric model is that the compressor’s noise will be reduced.
Another expense for the city is overtime wages paid to city employees who must work at the scene on holidays and weekends, as well as during nights, to refuel the compressor and check on the scene.
“The overtime alone is in the thousands,” Gintz said.
She noted that if and when the DNR fi nds the entity responsible for the gasoline fumes and leak, then the city can possibly be reimbursed for its out-of-pocket costs.
Gintz added that Seymour Fire Chief Shawn Crump also has been a valuable asset in the search for the gasoline. She said Crump checks the gas levels periodically and is in constant contact with DNR officials, as is Roger Cross, who leads the city’s sewer department.
“The bad news is that we’re really no closer to knowing where the leak is coming from than we were when all of this started a month ago,” Gintz said. “The good news is that possibilities are being eliminated of where it’s not coming from. Eventually, this issue will be solved by the DNR.”