Sulfur Smell and Blue Haze Coming from Montserrat Volcano

April 22, 2005 — The odor and haze that have hung in the air over the V.I. for several days causing some residents to wonder "what's that smell?" is no longer a mystery. The odor and bluish air is emanating from the Soufriere Hills volcano in Montserrat.
It is not the first time the volcano, which lies about 175 miles south east of the V.I., has spewed its remnants northward. In July 2003 ash from Soufriere Hills shut down airports on St. Thomas and St. Croix and blanketed cars, roofs, and porches with a gray abrasive film.
This time ash isn't the problem – sulfur dioxide is.
"Although there is no current eruptive activity, the volcano has been emitting high levels of sulfur dioxide, which is not unusual for active volcanoes," Dean C. Plaskett, commissioner of Planning and Natural Resources Department, said in a release issued Friday.
Plaskett said after conferring with the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Observatory and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory DPNR's Division of Environmental Protection found out the pungent sulfuric odor was coming from "volcanic smog."
Recent weather patterns have caused, particularly St. Croix, to be directly down wind of the volcano, according to reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Plaskett warned young children, older persons and persons with respiratory ailments such as allergies, lung disease, and asthma to protect themselves by staying indoors or "relocating to areas less affected." For more information on air quality contact the Division of Environmental Protection at 774-3320 in St. Thomas and 773-1082 in St. Croix.

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