Odd odor wafts through Pittsburgh neighborhoods

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Pittsburgh firefighters, Allegheny County Health Department officials and mobile units from Equitable Gas have been trying to figure out what is causing a natural gas odor that appears to be moving west to east across the city.

Equitable Gas spokesman Scott Waitlevertch said the calls began about 9:30 a.m. today from residents in the Strip District who smelled a strong natural gas odor in the air. Quickly, the calls began coming from Lawrenceville then Shadyside, he said. The smell dissipates from an area after a while and then moves on to a new area.

But in every case, mobile detectors indicated it was not natural gas, Mr. Waitlevertch said.

"There is a gas odor out there similar to natural gas," he said. "But we've cleared all of the areas. There is no issue, no leaks, we've discovered from any of our lines.

"We just can't tell what it is," he said.

Similar incidents of a traveling gas smell occur from time to time, Mr. Waitlevertch said, and they sometimes are found to be a truck or a train traveling through an area carrying something with an unusual odor emanating from its load. Other times it's found to be traveling sewer gas, he said.

But none of those circumstances appears to be the case in Pittsburgh today, he said, and gas, fire and health department officials continue to investigate.

The gas company had received 15 calls as of 1 p.m., he said, "and rightfully so; customers should call us when they believe they smell natural gas."

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Sean D. Hamill: shamill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-2579


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