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Sulfur-like odor in Bellingham is likely crude oil tanker, clean air agency says

Two ships in Samish Bay near Vendovi Island – the island closest to both vessels – as seen from the Oyster Dome trail lookout. The tanker Mare Siculum, anchored near the island, is likely the cause of a sulfur-like odor that prompted residents on Bellingham’s south side to call 911 Saturday evening, according to the Northwest Clean Air Agency.
Two ships in Samish Bay near Vendovi Island – the island closest to both vessels – as seen from the Oyster Dome trail lookout. The tanker Mare Siculum, anchored near the island, is likely the cause of a sulfur-like odor that prompted residents on Bellingham’s south side to call 911 Saturday evening, according to the Northwest Clean Air Agency. chutton@bhamherald.com

A sulfur-like odor that prompted 911 calls Saturday evening was likely caused by venting tanks aboard a crude oil tanker anchored near Vendovi Island, the Northwest Clean Air Agency said.

The air quality agency on Facebook said officials there believe the smell came from the tanker Mare Siculum, which is waiting to offload crude oil at the BP refinery at Cherry Point. The tanks were vented to relieve pressure, the agency said.

The Northwest Clean Air Agency, which enforces air quality regulations in Island, Skagit and Whatcom counties, does not have jurisdiction over mobile sources of air pollution, like tankers.

Still, the agency said it asked BP to “stop impacts on area residents,” and for the U.S. Coast Guard to check the vessel’s vapor recovery system. That inspection is scheduled for Wednesday, the agency’s post says.

Callers in the Edgemoor neighborhood began reporting the smell to 911 at around 7 p.m. Saturday, according to the Bellingham Fire Department. The odor progressed north through Fairhaven, South Hill, downtown Bellingham and the waterfront.

Officials at the time could not find the source.

The Mare Siculum is not scheduled to move for another week, the clean air agency said.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan

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