Lihue Airport reopened after noxious odor sickens TSA workers

By Ben Gutierrez - bio | email

LIHUE (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lihue Airport was closed for about two hours Thursday evening after a noxious odor was reported near the main TSA checkpoint.

About ten TSA workers became ill at about 6 p.m., according to state Department of Transportation spokesman Dan Meisenzahl, adding that they "experienced dizziness, nausea, headache and throwing up and a chemical taste in their mouth." They were taken to Wilcox Hospital as a precaution.

Meisenzahl said some incoming flights were delayed, but no flights were diverted because of the closure.

"We saw some police officers, and then this guy came over from the side. He was wearing a gas mask, and he said there's been some sort of hazmat incident." said Jacob Holcomb, an Oahu resident who was at the airport to catch a flight home.

"I just thought somebody got sick at first," said Val Nagano, who works at the airport. "But when I got to see all the fire trucks, I didn't know what to think."

People were prevented from entering the airport during the incident.

"The police did set up a roadblock at the intersection entering the airport," said Nagano, who was heading home after work. "No one could drive into there. I was just lucky to drive out."

Two other TSA checkpoints were opened, allowing regular airport operations to resume at about 8 p.m. The incident is still under investigation, Meisenzahl said.

No passengers were reported to have been affected.

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