St. Petersburg neigborhood says strange smell lingers

Posted at 5:53 PM, Dec 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-29 17:53:40-05

People in Old Southeast St. Petersburg say their neighborhood is getting hit with a strange smell.

"It just smells toxic," said Michael Drexler, who lives in the area. "It just smells really bad."

He owns two properties in the area and said often the air is unbearable.

"I've actually had to call fire crew to come and get the smell checked out at my other house because it was so noxious and took over the entire house," he said.

Others describe it more of a fuel-like or chemical smell.

"It definitely does give me a headache when the odors are pretty strong," said Rachel Gelbmann, who also lives in the area.

We went to Pinellas County Air Quality who then sent out an inspector after our phone call. Initially, inspectors said they believed the smell could be coming from nearby businesses that refinish and built boats.

When air quality investigates a complaint and determine the source they look to see how bad the smell is and if anything can be done about it, county representatives said.

If a business is determined as a "nuisance" (usually a business is considered a nuisance by the number of complaints and the severity of the complaints) then they try to find solutions to mitigate the smell if possible, county representatives said.

Sometimes it isn't as easily possible, especially if the area is highly industrial, but typically Air Quality looks for rules in the code to help the business follow up on this determination, the county said.

If neighbors live near a business or have a complaint they can call air quality at or can call 727-464-4222. 

If neighbors suspect that there is a toxic chemical smell such as a gas or chlorine leak, they should call the fire department, which handles hazmat smells.