Southern Maryland Hospital cleared after strong odor

A hazardous materials team called to Southern Maryland Hospital Monday evening to investigate a strong odor gave the hospital the “all clear” around 10:20 p.m. The smell came from the building’s propane storage tanks, authorities said.

For unknown reasons, a heavy odor of propane lingered in the area of the storage tanks Monday evening. The wind pushed the odor from the tanks over to the emergency room entrance, authorities said. The odors have since dissipated.

Members of the hazardous materials team are working with building engineers to isolate the storage tanks and have requested the propane-gas supplier to the scene to coordinate any repairs.

Before, the team had checked the emergency room and waiting room with a variety of monitoring devices, and hadn’t detected any harmful materials. The hospital at 7503 Surrats Road in Clinton will transition back to normal operations over the course of the evening.

Earlier, patients were evacuated to other areas of the hospital and ambulances re-routed, Prince George's police said. Firefighters arrived shortly before 8 p.m. because of reports of "a strong pungent odor."

The smell was initially suspected to be a gas leak, but Washington Gas Company personnel who arrived at the hospital determined it was not natural gas. Firefighters and a team from the Departments Hazardous Materials will attempt to identify and track down the source of the odor.