Smelling ‘gas’ in north Whatcom County? The spill in B.C. is harmless and under control

A harmless chemical spill in British Columbia sent an odor wafting across the border, prompting reports from residents in Whatcom County on Friday, Whatcom Unified Emergency Management said.

The odor was from a spill at a station in Abbotsford run by FortisBC, a company that supplies natural gas throughout B.C., said Amy Bunton, a company spokeswoman. The spill was not natural gas, Bunton noted, but mercaptan, which is added to the gas to give it a foul odor so harmful leaks can be identified.

It gives off a smell of garlic or rotten cabbage, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The spill happened when a worker was filling a truck with mercaptan, which was then to be taken and added to natural gas at another site on Monday. The spill had been contained, Whatcom Unified said via Twitter about 2:45 p.m. Friday.

The smell would eventually dissipate, Bunton said. The fact that people noticed the smell was a good thing, she added.

“It’s really good that people did call because it’s doing what it’s supposed to do,” Bunton said. “So the safety precaution is working and we appreciate people calling.”

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan