Something stinks on Florida highway

February 18, 1994|By Orlando Sentinel

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- "Strong odor -- next four miles -- do not stop -- keep moving."

That's the message motorists get from flashing signs on a stretch of Florida's Turnpike near the Yeehaw Junction exit.

This is one smell you don't want a whiff of. In fact, the air near this southern Osceola County town is so foul this week that at least two people got sick, prompting the state to action.

"We put those up to keep people from stopping there, possibly inhaling it and getting sick," Kim Poulton, a Turnpike spokeswoman, said yesterday. "Apparently, the fumes are very, very heavy."

Some business owners say the stench is chicken manure spread as fertilizer on a nearby pasture. Others say it might be sludge from a sewage treatment plant.

A female motorist who stopped with her child along the Turnpike because of car trouble Wednesday was the first to report illness.

Next, it was the state Department of Transportation employee sent to evaluate the situation after officials learned of the first incident, Ms. Poulton said.

The motorist went on her way. The state employee was treated at an Okeechobee County hospital and released after she reported difficulty breathing, nausea and stinging eyes, Ms. Poulton said.

Police increased patrols in the area in case anyone else finds the odor too much to take.

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