LA County

Violations Issued for Compton Spill That Sent Rotten Egg Smell Wafting for Miles

The two-gallon spill of the harmless Mercaptan had residents calling every public agency they could think of to find out what was going on.

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A land developer and contractor were issued notices of violations Friday after allegedly spilling about two gallons of a harmless chemical odorant in Compton, prompting people more than 20 miles away to complain about the pungent smell.

The Mercaptan spill was reported at 11:18 a.m. Thursday near the intersection of South Main Street and Rosecrans Avenue, near the border of Compton and Gardena, where a small storage tank containing the odorant was being moved, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

A hazardous materials team was sent to handle the cleanup, and no injuries were reported, but the odor was reported by numerous residents as far away as Orange County.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Friday issued notices of violations to developer Bridge Point Gardena Land, LLC and contractor OFRS, Inc for allegedly causing “a public nuisance.”

“Once issued, (notices of violations) can result in civil penalties. In some cases, the company can choose to implement voluntary measures to reduce emissions or otherwise prevent further violations,” South Coast ACMD said.

“If no settlement is reached, a civil lawsuit may ultimately be filed in court.”

The odor impacted the public in areas throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties, according to South Coast AQMD, which said 220 odor complaints were received.

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“A few drops can cause odors that carry for significant distances” South Coast AQMD said. In Lakewood, city officials put out a statement assuring residents that Mercaptan, also known as methanethiol, is harmless.

“It is added to natural gas to give it a strong smell that can be easily identified. While the gas is harmless, residents are urged to stay indoors if they can smell the odor,” Lakewood officials said.

South Coast AQMD did not detect any natural gas, but additional samples were taken to their labs for further analysis.

No injuries were reported, and the two-gallon spill was cleared by 7:30 p.m., but one engine remained at the scene Thursday night to “monitor the situation,” according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

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