Health officials think they know the source of gas smell at busy Shawnee intersection

Shawnee gas smell

The Temp Stop gas station near Shawnee Mission Parkway and Pflumm Road. Photo credit Leah Wankum.

After investigating for more than a month, Kansas health and environmental officials have begun to narrow down the source of a fuel smell reported several weeks ago in Shawnee in the area near Shawnee Mission Parkway and Pflumm Road.

Driving the news: Kansas Department of Health and Environment investigators have identified a leak in a tank at the Temp Stop gas station 13515 W. 63rd Street.

  • The tank is now being drained so it can be checked more thoroughly with a camera, said Stephanie Pfannenstiel, KDHE expert on leaking underground storage tanks.

Details: The gas station leak is the first solid lead investigators have had into why a gasoline or fuel smell was reported in the area going back to late June.

  • The agency says it will continue to check whether there are additional leaks elsewhere.
  • According to the tests done by KDHE so far, the leak or leaks have not created chemical levels high enough to cause any health or fire concerns.
  • Cracks and gaps in the underlying limestone and shale allow any leaking product to flow where it will, and not necessarily the way groundwater would flow.
  • “It’s the geology that makes it difficult,” Pfannenstiel said.

Background: Problems began in June when residents at three homes nearby reported the smell in their basements south of Shawnee Mission Parkway, she said.

  • Pipeline companies checked the homes’ lines on top of the sanitary sewers but did not find anything.
  • KDHE then got involved around July 5, first by putting ventilation on the sewer pipeline.
  • Indoor air monitoring was also done on some businesses nearby. Only one — a Sonic restaurant — turned up any air quality concerns and that will be addressed with a ventilation system, she said.
  • No new reports have come in about the smell since ventilation was installed, she said.
  • A second gas set of gas pumps belonging to a Hy-Vee was ruled out as a source because of its location up a hill.

Going forward: Investigators have set up seven wells to monitor groundwater, but no results from those are back yet, Pfannenstiel said.

  • Groundwater contamination should not be a concern because Shawnee’s water is drawn from a different aquifer, she said.

Roxie Hammill is a freelance journalist who reports frequently for the Post and other Kansas City area publications. You can reach her at roxieham@gmail.com