Mystery odour forces evacuation of Aamjiwnaang Health Centre

Ada Lockridge

Jack Poirier in The Observer

A nauseating odour forced the evacuation of the Aamjiwnaang Health Centre on Friday.

Approximately 10 workers were sent home after feeling nauseous and complaining of headaches.

“We don’t know where the source of the odour came from,” said band administrator Judy Dyer.

People in the area of the health centre, located at LaSalle Line and Tashmoo Avenue got their first whiff of a heavy propane and sulphur-like smell around 9:30 a.m.

Within an hour Sarnia fire officials were on scene at the health centre and confirmed the odour was coming from off site, Dyer said, who also attended the scene.

“It was a very intense odour. By the time I left I had a headache.

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment was contacted and a local investigation has begun.

Ministry spokesperson Annette Verhagen from the Sarnia office said late Friday afternoon that investigators were stilll trying to determine the cause.

“We did confirm the odour … and the investigation is ongoing,” she said.

Investigators will take into account factors such as wind direction, industrial sites located upwind and company operations at the time of the event.

Aamjiwnaang resident Ada Lockridge described the smell as sickening.

“On a scale of one to 10, it was a nine or 10,” she said.

Lockridge also pointed out that there is an air monitor in close proximity to the health centre’s location that ministry officials are examining.

Some residents in the area were concerned about why only health centre staff were notified.

Ladonna Maness, who was working within a block from the centre, said people living and working close to the health centre were feeling the effects from the mystery smell.

“The entire community should have been notified,” she said.

The home care worker said she was still dealing with a headache late in the afternoon.

“Of course I’m angry. We never get informed of anything.”

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