By Natasha Wilson
On Aug. 31, parents were concerned when an automated call went out from Pendleton County Schools just before 10 a.m. informing them of a propane leak at Pendleton County Middle/High School.
As the small leak was happening on the roof of the school, the air recycling HVAC system began to pull the propane tainted air back into the second floor of the building. As a precautionary measure, students were immediately evacuated to the gymnasium and local firefighters were contacted.
While propane is an odorless gas, a harmless chemical, ethyl mercaptan, is added by propane companies to create the gas’s unique “rotten egg” smell. It’s an additive that is combined with liquified petroleum gas, or LPG, to alert users of a leak.
In this case, it did exactly what it was designed to do.
A sweep of the building proved that the traceable gas amounts were never anywhere near a threatening or dangerous level. Within 30 minutes of the onset of the incident the leak was repaired. To ensure the safety of the students, however, they remained in the gymnasium while the air inside the school was checked, and ultimately cleared, by the fire department.
In regard to the leak, Charles Hedrick, Pendleton County Schools superintendent, said “we always put the safety of students and staff first in all decision making.”