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Gas odor spooks neighbors – reported to be from north of the border

Whatcom County Fire District 7 (WCFD7) officials became concerned after several reports of gas leaks due to neighbors smelling gas around their homes and businesses.

WCFD7 Division Chief Ben Boyko said there had been 10 to 15 calls from people in the area reporting gas leaks in a 30-minute period this afternoon. The source was ultimately determined to be from a natural gas facility north of the US-Canadian border.

A representative from MDU Resources, the parent company of Cascade Natural Gas, confirmed they had been notified of a spill of odorant at a FortisBC facility and that was determined the source of the odor which resulted in dozens of calls to both Cascade Natural Gas and 911 dispatch operators.

The odorant, Mercaptan, is added to natural gas to make it more easily detectable in the event of a leak. It is the reason natural gas has a sulphur-like smell.

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Winds from the north-northeast pushed the odorant into the area while cold air kept it from dissipating into the upper atmosphere, holding it close to the ground instead.

Mercaptan is a colorless, flammable gas with an extremely strong and repulsive smell.

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