What’s that smell in Charlotte? Source Says Cleanup Company Behind Smell – WSOC TV

CHARLOTTE. If you smell gas on Charlotte Thursday, you’re not alone.

Mecklenburg County authorities said they are receiving a high number of 911 calls about a putrid odor associated with natural gas throughout the city. From uptown to Midwood Square, west of Charlotte and north of Charlotte, people couldn’t escape the smell.

“I thought, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ said Kristin Ramos, who lived in NoDa. “It wouldn’t surprise me if something happened in Charlotte.”

There are no natural gas leaks in its system, according to Piedmont Natural Gas. It says the widespread odor was caused by a local company destroying tanks of mercaptan that were “erroneously deemed empty.” A source told Channel 9 that Legacy Environmental was responsible for the smell.

The tank contained an odorizer added to natural gas. Natural gas is odorless, so officials add the chemical mercaptan to give it a sulfur-like odor that alerts people to a leak. Piedmont Natural Gas said in a statement that “mercaptan poses no hazard and does not require evacuation.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mercaptan can cause “olfactory fatigue.” This means you may not be able to smell the odor before the mercaptan fumes are completely dissipated.

The smell was so strong that it prompted the evacuation of the Mecklenburg District Court and several other businesses. Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over large groups of people seen standing near buildings and even hotels.

“(It) smelled like natural gas. We were in our hotel room and I felt it and I thought, “This is weird. We’re in this closed room.” It just smelled of gas,” said Lee Wilzczek, who smelled in Charlotte.

The smell also prompted emergency alerts to be sent around the city instructing them not to call 911.

“Our call center received thousands of calls today,” the CMPD lieutenant said. Stephen Fischbach.

The sheriff’s office said the Charlotte Fire Department later cleared the courthouse, but it would remain closed for the rest of the day.

Charlotte Fire and Mecklenburg County officials said they continue to work with Piedmont Natural Gas.

The role of weather in amplifying odor

Meteorologist Keith Munday said the persistent smell of natural gas is caused by a temperature inversion. This is when warmer air sits on top of colder, denser air at the surface. Any strong odors can fall under this inversion, such as a stronger smell of gas.

The National Weather Service also confirmed that the weather inversion lightens the smell.

Monday said Thursday’s weather doesn’t cause the smell of gas, but makes it more pronounced.

>> The graph below shows what a temperature inversion looks like when sounding (measurements taken from a weather balloon). The red line is the temperature, the green line is the dew point. The inversion occurs when the red line moves to the right with height and then quickly returns to the left.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police have asked people not to call 911 about the weather inversion unless they are feeling unwell or in need of a medical emergency.

Channel 9 contacted Piedmont Natural Gas for more information. At the moment we have not received a response.

This is an evolving story. Check with wsoctv.com for updates.

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