Students Evacuated After Multiple Gas Leak Scares
By Ashlynn Worley
In the course of one month, Quincy University received at least three reports of a gas odor in a dorm building.
The first incident occurred on August 16th while students were moving in.
Garner Hall is an all-female dorm housing 67 freshman students this semester.
Officials from the university and local emergency crews arrived on Chestnut Avenue and evacuated everyone from the residence hall.
Students were instructed to stay outside until the building was cleared by Ameren Illinois officials.
Freshman Alexia Ginter and her grandparents were in the process of moving the last of things into her new dorm room when she was instructed to wait outside.
“We were going to move my final stuff in I had a couple boxes, a little bit of clothes, and we weren’t able to get in for at least an hour, 45 minutes maybe,” Ginter said.
According to Director of Facilities Randy Johnson, the issue started when the water heater valve shut off, causing students to smell a gas-like odor in the air.
Officials told QUTV that natural gas has an odor-less smell.
Companies add harmless chemicals like mercaptan, which smells like rotten eggs, to ensure a gas leak would be detectable.
Doors and windows of Garner Hall remained open to air out some of the odor.
Ameren officials determined the amount of natural gas in the air never reached a toxic level.
“Quincy University looks out for all of our students. I come in on emergencies, I have crews that come in and the University is looking out for the students first. We will always protect our children, the parent’s children and make sure they’re safe,” Johnson said.
The broken water heater valve resulted in cold showers for some students living in Garner.
“The first day it was the most frustrating because by the time I’d gotten back from all the activities we were doing all the hot water was gone. So then me and a couple girls went down to the HFC and took showers down there and everything,” Ginter said.
Exactly two weeks later on August 30, students living in Garner Hall reported another smell of gas.
Emergency crews from the University and the city were called to the scene and evacuated students for the second time.
The shut-off valve in the boiler room was broken, causing the smell of gas to leak through the halls of Garner.
Ginter, who was evacuated from her residence hall again, said this time the showers were cold but not as cold as they were during the first incident two weeks prior.
Officials cleared the building and students returned inside.
The next day, students were once again evacuated from Garner Hall as a precaution after yet another report of a gas odor.
“Smell-wise it did kind of suck and everything but I was kind of like I can’t really do anything so I just gotta keep going on,” Ginter said.
Emergency officials said this time the water heater module was broken.
QU has replaced all the broken equipment in Garner and cleaned the boilers.
Dean of Students Christine Tracy said this recurring incident was nothing the University could have prevented.
Meanwhile, QU is still working on a permanent solution to this problem.