Stinky gas: City dealt it, hundreds smelt it

Posted at 3:46 PM, Sep 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-24 15:46:43-04

HAMILTON, Ohio – What’s that smell?

Hundreds of Hamilton residents have been reporting a sour gas smell inside their homes, worried about possible leaks.

“I came in and I smelled what smelled like gas, right away as I came in the door,” resident Jamie Patrick said. “I didn’t know if there was something going on in my house that I should be concerned with or if there was something going on like a leak outside.”

The smell wasn’t from a leak, according to Kevin Maynard, the city director of underground facilities. He said the problem was a metering malfunction on the Texas Eastern Transmission Company pipeline that caused greater-than-normal concentrations of the odorant mercaptan to be added to the gas.

Mercaptan is harmless. It’s added to odorless natural gas in order to make it detectable by smell in case there is a leak.

In greater concentrations, the mercaptan can make it seem that there is a gas leak during regular use of water heaters and appliances, according to Maynard.

“The odorant in the system will drop to their normal levels and we have made adjustments out there to the equipment so we don’t expect that’s going to be a continuing problem,” Maynard said.

Still, officials are advising residents who smell gas to report it just in case by calling 513-785-7550 or 911.