MANATEE — National Weather Service officials are being inundated with dozens of reports from residents about a strong stench across the Tampa Bay area that meteorologists say may be related to a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
On April 20, an oil rig exploded off the coast of Louisiana, leaving an oil spill that is now 48 miles long and 80 miles wide, according to the Associated Press.
Now a westerly wind may be sending a stench from the spill toward Florida, prompting the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to begin testing air quality on the west coast, according to Weather Service meteorologist Logan Johnson.
Some have reported that the odor smells like turpentine.
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“We have literally had dozens of reports from people about the smell,” said Johnson from the Weather Service office in Ruskin. “It certainly is a possibility that it is the oil spill because we have a westerly wind that is transporting the smell this way.”
Johnson said air quality tests by DEP and local environmental agencies are being expedited to test for any health concerns.
So far there have been no reports of any health problems in Manatee County, according to Manatee Public Safety Capt. Larry Leinhauser.