“It's Like Being in an Outhouse”

Offensive odor plagues new Terminal A offices at San Jose Mineta Airport

There's a mystery in the air at San Jose Mineta International Airport. Specifically, in the offices behind the ticket counter in the airport's newly renovated Terminal A -- and it stinks, literally.

For the past five months, a sewerlike stench has been intermittently wafting through the office areas of the new terminal.

"It's like being in an outhouse," Steve Newell, general manager of the US Airways San Jose field station told the Mercury News. "The last two days, it came back like gangbusters. It was literally like you stuck your head in a septic tank. Short-term, you can put up with it. But eight to 10 hours a day, it's horrible."

The smell is so unsettling, some airline officials have threatened to withhold monthly rent payments until it clears. That quickly adds up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

City officials have been running big fans and odor-neutralizing machines to try to push the smell out. They've even snaked video cameras through the sewer lines to detect leaks but so far, the stench persists.

Officials at the airport suspect the offensive odor is a result of poor plumbing work by a subcontracto during the renovation.

Airport spokesman David Vossbrink said that so far, no passengers have complained -- just employees and airline officials.

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