Something Rotten in the State of Tumbler?

Bob Curry was looking forward to taking a day off on Saturday, March 28. As owner of MR Maintenance, he works long, hard hours and Saturday was going to be his day to relax.

Instead, he began to get inundated with phone calls from people saying they suspected they had a gas leak. This was unusual, to say the least. ?I get very few calls from people saying they smell gas.? And multiple calls in one day? Something was up.

So Curry referred the calls on to Pacific Northern Gas (PNG), who sent their local serviceman to check out the reports. ?After PNG had looked at it, I went in and fixed the leaks for anybody who wanted me to fix them.?

In the course of three days, Curry fixed about 15 leaks, which is about as many as he fixes in an entire winter. The reason for all the calls? Mercapton.

Mike Bernier, PNG Manager for Dawson Creek and Region explains. ?We put in an additive called Mercapton, which gives natural gas a smell of rotten eggs,? says Bernier. ?Sweet Natural gas coming to people?s houses is colourless and odorless, so we add this chemical so people can smell it. Once in a while, if there is a quick draw of gas, it can cause more Mercapton to be added to the lines.?

This, says Bernier, is what happened this time. Extra Mercapton was added to the gas. It doesn?t harm gas lines at all, says Bernier, but it sure does smell. ?What happened was people who had small leaks could now smell them. Mercapton doesn?t cause any problems, but the stronger smell caused people to notice that their gas was leaking.?

Most of these leaks, says Bernier, were very small, and nothing to be worried about. He says PNG has a serviceman stationed in Tumbler Ridge, who is on call 24-hours a day. ?If you smell gas, phone us at 1-800-663-1173, and we can advise on what to do.?