Odor near Normal Community High School comes from fuel additive; students safe

Normal Community
A natural gas additive was detected near Normal Community High School on Tuesday, but there was no natural gas leak. (WJBC file photo)

By Eric Stock

NORMAL – Fire officials in Normal say a natural gas odor investigation near Normal Community High School early Tuesday was not related to any gas release.

Fire department battalion captain Jim Vaughn said the odor was caused by the release of the additive mercaptan that is used so that gas leaks can be detected.

“It’s actually some sort of odor that they put into the gas to add to its natural state which creates a odor which lets people now when there’s a gas leak,” Vaughn said.

According to the Normal Fire Department’s Facebook page, mercaptan usually evaporates but it’s believed the cold temperatures and atmospheric conditions allowed the smell to travel farther than anticipated.

“The mercaptan in its raw form is thousands of times more concentrated before it is injected into the natural gas, so even a small amount is easily detectable at great distances,” according to the fire department.

Unit 5 officials notified parents of the odor and said there was no need for an evacuation.

Nicor Gas officials told the fire department there was no natural gas release.

Fire officials say there is no hazard.

Nicor officials said if you think there might be a gas leak, call 1-888-Nicor-4-U.

Eric Stock can be reached at eric.stock@cumulus.com.

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