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‘Rotten egg’ stink spread north from Penhold area on Friday

Small spill of odourant mercaptan caused the odour
Red Deer County Protective Services said the natural gas odour people smelled on Dec. 9 was just the odourant added to natural gas. (Contributed)

A natural gas odour released near Penhold on Friday wafted as far north as the Blackfalds area.

At the time, Red Deer County said there was no danger to the public from the rotten egg stench, but advised residents to keep doors and windows closed.

Crossroads Gas Co-op Ltd. said the odour came from a small spill of the chemical mercaptan (the odourant added to natural gas). The spill actually happened on Thursday during cleanup at a small natural gas odorizing and distribution building at the junction of Highways 2 and 42, but the odour didn’t start to spread until Friday when the soil was dug up, bagged and removed.

“We had a little bit of a spill, and the wind takes it and sets it up into the atmosphere and moves it. Which ever way the wind blows, they’re going to smell it,” said Crossroads general manager Robert Tinant, who added it doesn’t take much mercaptan to smell it.

Crossroads was cleaning up the site after a tractor trailer struck the distribution building on Dec. 1. The company may look at moving the building in the spring once the ground thaws.

Tinant said there are no health issues associated with mercaptan once it’s up in the atmosphere. How far the odour travels depends on how strong the wind is, which way the wind is blowing and the temperature.

Deputy fire chief Travis Allred said the wind was out of the southwest on Friday and odour could be smelled in a large area.

Red Deer Emergency Services also monitored the odour which impacted some south east neighbourhoods in the city.

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