PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - A natural gas leak at an elementary school in Picayune sickened several people Monday. Officials at Roseland Park Elementary School say the gas to the building has since been turned off and students and staff are not in danger.
Picayune Assistant Superintendent of Schools Brent Harrell told WLOX News Now a gas smell in the cafeteria kitchen was first detected last week, but maintenance and city public works crews did not find any leaks during their initial check.
“Monday they smelled gas in the afternoon again. At 5 a.m. [Tuesday] they discovered three leaks. The gas was turned off so there’s no gas coming into the building,” Harrell said.
Worried parents contacted WLOX News Now saying the gas smell left students and staff members feeling nauseated and with headaches. Harrell said he had not heard of any students becoming ill, but said, “I know of three or four employees who went to doctor or clinic on their own.”
The gas smell was strongest in the front of the building and cafeteria, according to Harrell.
Public Works Director Eric Morris told WLOX News Now the source of the leak has now been identified as coming from the cafeteria. He said old fittings on the gas lines to old appliances are being replaced. The school’s maintenance department is doing repairs, which are expected to be complete by the end of the day.
Once the repairs are finished and tests certify that everything works as it should, the gas will be turned back on.
The cafeteria is closed Tuesday and students will be served sack lunches in their classrooms.
Roseland Park Elementary has 485 students and 60 staff. Superintendent Harrell said the cafeteria is part of the original building constructed in the 1950s, though there have been several expansions and renovations over the years.