An area near the Ranch House convenience store and service station, 230 W. Gravois Ave. in St. Clair, was blocked off to traffic late Friday night as a precaution after an odor was detected in the vicinity.
No one was injured, and nothing hazardous was found.
St. Clair Fire Protection District Deputy Chief Jack Bielefeld told The Missourian that an individual called 911 shortly before 10:30 p.m. on Friday night saying there was some kind of strange smell coming from the area.
“Upon arrival, we encountered a very pungent odor,” Bielefeld said. “We decided to classify it as a minor hazmat (hazardous materials) situation.”
Franklin County Hazardous Materials Team duty officer Mark Skornia was called to the scene, and he as well as St. Clair Fire Protection District firefighters began checking the area for the source of the odor.
It quickly was determined that the odor was not coming from the service station, so the search moved to the 90 to 100 Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad cars that were sitting on the track along West Gravois Avenue.
“We proceeded to go car to car,” Bielefeld said. “We found one that was leaking.”
Bielefeld said the railcars included some tankers, and a leak coming out of one of them was found.
“It was some kind of lubricant,” Bielefeld said. “But it was determined that the leak was not a hazard.”
Four separate gas meters were used to check the air around the railcar.
“We found no contaminants,” Bielefeld said.
A BNSF employee also was at the scene as were St. Clair Police Department officers and Missouri Highway Patrol troopers.
The employee said the leak would be fixed.
West Gravois Avenue was blocked off to the west from the intersection that leads to the Interstate 44 mile marker 239 exit and entrance ramps.
“We blocked off the area as a safety precaution,” Bielefeld said.
The investigation took about 90 minutes to two hours to complete.
In all, nine St. Clair firefighters were on the scene as well as the other emergency responders.