Official: Odor in Abington from chemical spill, not gas leak

December 27, 2010 12:48:43 PM PST
Authorities in suburban Philadelphia say they believe the spill of a chemical that smells like natural gas led hundreds of residents to think there was a gas leak.

Abington Township Fire Marshal Kenneth Clark says about a gallon of a substance believed to be mercaptan (mur-CAP'-ten) spilled on Monday. The chemical is added to natural gas to give it a detectable odor.

Clark says a container of the substance was accidentally punctured during snow removal at an Abington business. Strong winds carried the odor to neighboring townships, and Clark says hundreds of residents called authorities and utility companies.

He says residents are not in danger. A private company is analyzing the chemical to confirm its contents.