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Chemical leak spreads strong gas smell in Hempfield | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Chemical leak spreads strong gas smell in Hempfield

Jacob Tierney
| Tuesday, December 18, 2018 5:36 p.m
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Hempfield residents reported a strong gas odor from a natural gas storage facility on Route 136 Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2018.

Thomas Greager said he’s been worried to leave his home on Route 136 in Hempfield Township for about a week because of an overwhelming smell of natural gas.

“I couldn’t even stay out here. I had to stay inside the house,” he said.

Officials believe the smell was caused by a mercaptan leak at a natural gas storage facility on Route 136.

Mercaptan is a pungent-smelling chemical that is added to natural gas in tiny amounts. It’s what gives gas its trademark smell, making it easy to detect in case of leaks.

It is not flammable and poses no risk, said Rick Rainey, spokesman for Enterprise Products, the gas company that operates the Hempfield storage facility.

“We are working to get this taken care of, and are in close contact with the authorities to make sure that happens,” he said.

The leak has been temporarily repaired, and crews will be working overnight to replace the pipe, he said. The problem is expected to be fixed fairly quickly.

Hempfield Township Manager Jason Winters said the township has received numerous complaints about a strong gas odor near the facility over the last two weeks, but the call volume increased Monday night and Tuesday morning.

“With it getting bad the past day or so, we’ve been in contact with county emergency management,” he said.

Township and county emergency officials contacted Enterprise Products to track down the source of the smell, Winters said.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, jtierney@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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