why did so much of Philadelphia smell like gas yesterday?
June 25, 2014 6:12 PM Subscribe
Yesterday morning it smelled like gas from South Philly though center city and up into Fishtown, but it wasn't actually natural gas. What was it?
posted by sepviva to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When I walked the dog in Penn Treaty park yesterday morning, it smelled like natural gas. The smell seemed to be strongest when the wind was blowing, and it was coming from the south and off the river. When I got off the el at Suburban Station, it smelled like gas, and one coworker noticed it at 8th and Arch. Two coworkers who live in South Philly east of Broad also smelled gas that morning, and one had the night before. Monday night the gas company tested her entire block and found no gas. The other coworker saw the fire department responding to a call from a bakery about the gas smell three blocks from their house. That was also not actually natural gas. A third coworker said his apartment in old city started smelling like cat pee Monday night, which was perplexing as he doesn't have a cat. We thought it was likely the same smell.
Google and the news didn't have anything about it, but I did find an article about a similar thing happening in January when people smelled not-gas over "a swath of territory that stretched from Germantown through Northeast Philadelphia into lower Bucks County". Also found references to a not-gas smell across south Philly in December of 2009. Both said that PGW didn't know what the smell was.
Theories in the office were that one of the chemical plants or refineries had released something into the sewage where it was reacting at the water treatment plant (apparently this is a thing) or into the air. But what? What else are the natural odorants used for?