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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Updated
Strong gas smell overwhelms South Shore
National Grid investigating source of odor believed to have originated off Long Beach
By Vanessa Canner and Anthony Rifilato

A pungent smell that overwhelmed parts of the South Shore Wednesday morning — initially thought to be a gas leak responsible for a “noxious” stench that led several nearby school districts to keep students indoors — was confirmed by National Grid Thursday afternoon that the odor was not natural gas.

Long Beach Fire Chief Rich Corbett said that a barge off the coast of Long Beach might be to blame for the strong stench of natural gas that wafted along the South Shore starting at around 10 a.m. this morning.

“Due to the weather conditions, it usually vents up into the atmosphere, but due to the fog and the rain it held [the gas] down and the wind blew it onto our shores,” Corbett said.

The wind blew the smell as far north as Oceanside and Island Park, and residents, believing the odor was caused by a gas leak along Lido Blvd., called their local fire departments, Corbett said.

"The smell was bad," Corbett said. "We have no complaints of any aided … but the smell has dissipated in Long Beach and I know Oceanside is working to make [sic] the smell off by Staples right now, but there’s really nothing we can do."

Wendy Ladd, a spokeswoman for National Grid, said that while the smell seemed to be coming from the Long Beach area, a barge would not cause such a natural gas odor, and said that the agency is still investigating the source of the smell, which has since dissipated.

Ladd confirmed on Thursday that the odor was not natural gas, “but the source of the odor is still undetermined.”

While many south shore residents called in complaints early Wednesday morning, Ladd said the calls stopped around 2 p.m. yesterday, with the smell having moved out of the area.

“We received a lot of calls from customers thinking that it was a gas leak in front of their houses or something, so we responded to all those calls and we haven’t found anything, so we’ve completed our part of this,” Ladd said.

Long Beach, Oceanside and Baldwin school officials were among those who decided to keep students indoors as a precaution.

Long Beach Schools Superintendent David Weiss said that the district contacted the county’s office of Emergency Management when school officials noticed the odor.

“It was noxious — and that was our first step to identify what it was,” Weiss said. “Since it was an external odor, the idea was to stay indoors and not go outside.”

Weiss said that he was in contact with nearby school districts after it was determined that it was a “regional” problem.

“This wasn’t something that happened in the school that we responded to,” he said. “We were told that there was a natural [gas] leak on a barge, and that the atmospheric conditions kept it contained, which is what created the odor in the area, and they did not identify a danger.”

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