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Over-odorized gas raises alarm

August 14, 2014

BY JOSH PRESLEY
news@dailytimesleader.com

Some West Point residents may have been alarmed this by the strong smell of natural gas in and around their homes. However, Atmos Energy officials have assured customers that there is no cause for concern.
Atmos Operations Manager Michelle Whittle said the company’s gas substation in Aberdeen, which feeds to lines in West Point, was over-odorizing the gas.
“Natural gas doesn’t have a smell or a taste,” Whittle said. “We have to odorize the gas so our customers will be able to smell it if they have a gas leak.”
She said Atmos began receiving calls from concerned residents about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, and technicians worked through the night responding to each call.
“We sent a technician out to our Aberdeen station where the odorizing occurs and, sure enough, it was overdoing it,” Whittle said. “It’s supposed to drop the odor in every 48 seconds, but was doing it every 12 seconds.”
She said the increase in odorizer led to a much more pungent smell coming from any home with a pilot light or gas water heater.
“The only thing that’s out of the ordinary is the smell,” Whittle said. “It doesn’t mean anyone has a leak, and all our other systems are functioning normally.”
She said a positive to come from the mistake is that it has helped Atmos identify any homes that did, in fact, have leaks.
“There were a couple potentially dangerous leaks that the residents weren’t even aware of,” Whittle said. “We’ve taken care of those, and identifying those problems was worth all the extra hours of work we had to put in.”

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