Rotten smell detected as turpentine at state docks near Civic Center

A rotten smell in the downtown area apparently came from a chemical storage tank at Omega Partners near the Columbus Civic Center, a city official said Tuesday.

Larry Wright, manager of operations at Omega Partners, said workers were cleaning a tank with turpentine. “It was a little bit more smell today than normal when we were cleaning the tank,” he said.

The tank cleaning was complete just after 1 p.m. and the smell should have cleared up, Wright said. He described the smell as a lighter version of what you have at the MeadWestvaco plant in Cottonton, Ala.

At least three calls poured into the Columbus Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services shortly after downtown residents smelled what was described as rotten eggs or sulfur, said Fire Marshall Ricky Shores.

A work crew with the Columbus Water Works detected the smell at the storage tanks after receiving complaints . “It seems to be emanating from the state docks tanks that are located down there,” said Lynn Campbell, vice president of water resources operations at the Water Works.

Campbell said combined sewer overflow operators detected the smell about 11 a.m. The Columbus Fire and Emergency Medical Services already had received at least three complaints about the odor.

The Water Works is not connected to the chemical storage tanks but does operate pumping stations on each side of the area known as the tank farm. The facility is located between the Civic Center and the Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus.

During heavy rain, the pumping station near the Civic Center pumps sewerage to the other side. “We have operators down there and they detected an odor,” Campbell said. “We are not on line. There is nothing coming from us.”