Natural gas smell prompts dozens of complaints across Central Texas

Natural gas pipeline located just outside of Kyle. (KXAN photo)

KYLE, Texas (KXAN) – Area fire departments say they have been receiving numerous calls all weekend regarding a natural gas smell, but say they never found any reason to be concerned.

Callers describe it as a “rotten eggs” smell connected to natural gas. The Kyle Fire Department usually receives one or two calls a month about the smell. Last week alone they received around a dozen.

“That’s a lot more than normal,” said Assistant Fire Chief Mike Vasil.

Vasil says natural gas stations like the one off Highway 150 near Kyle is generally the cause. He says gas companies inject a chemical into the lines to give the gas an odor so people can recognize when there’s a leak, but there’s also another possibility.

“Sometimes we do get the smell from Luling from the oil fields over there,” said Vasil.

Local gas companies agree that was likely the issue after receiving 40 complaints in a single weekend. “We investigated all of the calls reported to us and did not find any issues with our facilities and we were not odorizing our system over the weekend. The calls seem to be associated with a sulfur smell near Luling that blew into that area due to changing winds,” said a spokesperson for Centerpoint Energy.

The smell wafted more than 40 miles north, helped out by the low clouds.

‘When the weather is cool outside it keeps the gas smell down closer to the ground. When it’s hot out, it tends to rise quicker,” said Vasil.

If you smell gas inside, Texas gas says to still take precautions. Go outside, call 911 and report it to Texas Gas at 800-959-5325.

“We’ll always come out to check it. It’s better safe than sorry,” said Vasil.

Adding odor to natural gas became a federal law after the New London School disaster in Northeast Texas, less than 30 miles east of Tyler. In March 1937 more than 250 students and teachers died when a gas leak went undetected at the school’s main building. There was an explosion when an instructor switched on an electric sander. The school’s roof collapsed and the walls buckled.

Lawmakers began pushing for the odorization of gas just a few weeks later. The goal is to make it easier to detect leaks.

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