Chemical’s release in Charlotte so stinky it broke the law

July 24, 2022 GMT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Officials say an environmental cleanup company violated a county’s “objectionable odor rule” when it accidentally released a smelly chemical that offended nostrils and caused alarm across Charlotte earlier this month.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the area’s 911 system was flooded with calls July 14 from people who thought they smelled a leak of natural gas. Climate conditions around the city seemed to spread the smell broadly.

In fact, though, a company called Legacy Environmental Services accidentally released a chemical called mercaptan while it was recycling four metal tanks.

Mercaptan is the otherwise harmless chemical added to natural gas that smells like rotten eggs so that people can detect a possible leak.

The Observer reported Friday that Mecklenburg County officials say the release has been classified as a violation and that they are seeking more information from the company to determine next steps.

The company says it is cooperating with regulators.