JACKSONVILLE, Texas (KETK) – A strong smell of gas throughout the city of Jacksonville since Wednesday night left many residents concerned.
Jacksonville ISD released a statement saying they had been in contact with Centerpoint Energy early Thursday morning. The gas smell is due to “an over-abundance of the chemical used to produce the odor in natural gas.”
The school district assured parents and residents that there is no leak in Jacksonville
The chemical is known as Mercaptan and is used to give leaking gas a smell similar to rotten eggs.
The practice has been used worldwide since the 1937 New London school explosion here in East Texas that killed just over 300 people, many of them students. The explosion was blamed on natural gas leaking but was not detected due to it being odorless.
Here is the entire statement released by the district:
JISD officials have been in contact with Centerpoint Energy officials early this morning concerning the prevalent smell of gas throughout town and concentrated around the Middle School and Fred Douglass campuses. We have been assured that no leak is involved, but is caused by an over-abundance of the chemical used to produce the odor in natural gas. At this time, classes will proceed as planned. JISD and Centerpoint Energy will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day.
CenterPoint Energy released this statement just after 10 a.m.:
Safety is CenterPoint Energy’s number one priority and we are committed to the safe and reliable operation of pipelines in all of our communities. Overnight, CenterPoint Energy responded to several natural gas leak calls in Jacksonville, TX, per our practice to ensure the safety of the communities we serve.
At this time, we believe excess odorant was placed into the natural gas, causing a stronger smell. Customers near the area might have smelled, and continue to smell, natural gas. CenterPoint Energy natural gas crews have been responding to calls since yesterday and will continue to do so until this excess odorant issue is resolved.
CenterPoint Energy adds an odorant to natural gas to give it the characteristic and recognized ‘gassy’ smell so the public can detect it in the air. As a safety device, the company also has two flaring locations, which are controlled burning of natural gas.
If you suspect a natural gas leak, immediately leave on foot, go to a safe location and call both 911 and CenterPoint Energy at 888-876-5786. Don’t use electric switches, phones (including cell phones), drive or start a car, or do anything that could cause a spark.