Hampshire police field calls after smell from French factory reaches Hampshire

French pong reaches Hampshire

French pong reaches Hampshire

First published in Environment
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

HAMPSHIRE has been engulfed by a foul-smelling gas cloud which wafted over from France, triggering thousands of calls to the emergency services and the National Grid.

Peopleacross the county first reported the smell after a discharge of the gas mercaptan from a factory in the northern city of Rouen drifted across the English Channel.

By the afternoon the unpleasant aroma - similar to 'rotten eggs' - had spread further up the country, with reports coming in from as far north as Northampton.

The National Grid, which would normally deal with up to 10,000 calls countrywide in a day, was inundated with more than 100,000 calls by 2pm. A spokesman said it was an ''unprecedented'' volume.

Mercaptan is added to municipal gas to alert people to gas leaks, among other uses, but is not toxic and poses no harm to the public, according to the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

It said the gas had diluted since entering the air over England, and, although it may cause some people to feel slightly nauseous, it will dispel naturally.

The HPA said: ''The smell drifting over southern England today poses no risk to public health. The odour, which is similar to rotten eggs, has been noticed by people mainly in Kent, East and West Sussex and some parts of Surrey.

''It is caused by a particularly smelly chemical that is added to odourless natural gas to give that its characteristic smell. The chemical leaked from a factory in Rouen, France, yesterday and has blown across the Channel overnight.

''It is not toxic and has also been diluted before entering the air over England, so people should be reassured it will cause no harm. It is an unpleasant odour which may cause some people to feel slightly nauseous but it will dispel naturally.''

According to the French interior ministry, the factory at the centre of the leak is owned by Lubrizol, a subsidiary of investor Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway group.

The company's operations director Pierre-Jean Payrouse told French radio that they were trying to contain the problem but the cause of it was unknown.

He told RTL radio: ''It's not so much a leak as a product that has decomposed, which smells very bad and which is escaping. An investigation is under way but our priority is to deal with the problem.''

The stench provoked mirth on Twitter.

London Fire Brigade tweeted: ''We've been called to 25 gas incidents since 10.30am. The rotten egg smell is coming from France but has no risk to public £zutalors.''

In Kent, residents were urged by the fire brigade to keep doors and windows closed, while in Hampshire, the fire and rescue service received more than 20 calls.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue say they have also received more than 20 calls, mainly from the Portsmouth area, but as far north as Basingstoke and as far west as Ringwood.

Group Manager Tony Deacon said: "Our control room has dealt with a number of calls reporting the unpleasant gas smell.

"We want to reassure the public that the gas presents no threat to health and is completely harmless."

Stella Fowler, 73, from Brook Road, Bitterne, Southampton, said she noticed a stink when she went into her garden.

She said: “It smells like sulphur, like rotting eggs. It’s horrible.

“I noticed it in the garden and I checked it wasn’t coming from my gas flue – but it wasn’t.”

Anyone concerned about a gas emergency in their home or building should still call the National Gas Emergency Number on 0800 111 999.

  • Have you smelt the whiff? If so, contact Bethan Phillips on 023 8042 4520.

Comments (40)

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2:06pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Torchie1 says...

Mercaptan Sulphur. Used as a Stenching Agent.
Mercaptan Sulphur. Used as a Stenching Agent. Torchie1
  • Score: 0

2:11pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Lockssmart says...

I thought it was MGRA?
I thought it was MGRA? Lockssmart
  • Score: 0

2:15pm Tue 22 Jan 13

kingnotail says...

So not only does Southampton look bad, now it smells bad too.
So not only does Southampton look bad, now it smells bad too. kingnotail
  • Score: 0

2:23pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Rookers says...

it seems to be spreading camn smell it in both Otterbourne and Winchester too
it seems to be spreading camn smell it in both Otterbourne and Winchester too Rookers
  • Score: 0

2:24pm Tue 22 Jan 13

sotonwinch09 says...

Really strong smell in Winchester although I don't see what the fuss is about and everyone ringing 999.
Really strong smell in Winchester although I don't see what the fuss is about and everyone ringing 999. sotonwinch09
  • Score: 0

2:25pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Piston_Broke says...

Strong pong in Bournemouth now!
Strong pong in Bournemouth now! Piston_Broke
  • Score: 0

2:33pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Joe Kirkup says...

Just thought it was the usual stench from Portsea Island.
Just thought it was the usual stench from Portsea Island. Joe Kirkup
  • Score: 0

2:37pm Tue 22 Jan 13

maiya0405 says...

I smelt it in Botley and then travelled to Hedge End and it was still there - presumed it was Fawley!
I smelt it in Botley and then travelled to Hedge End and it was still there - presumed it was Fawley! maiya0405
  • Score: 0

2:41pm Tue 22 Jan 13

bernard7 says...

I thought someone in the office had ****, i'll let them off
I thought someone in the office had ****, i'll let them off bernard7
  • Score: 0

2:42pm Tue 22 Jan 13

TheVoiceOfReason87 says...

Who rings 999 because of a bad smell? Honestly. Its beyond belief sometimes the things people do. Should be ashamed of yourselves wasting valuable time!
Who rings 999 because of a bad smell? Honestly. Its beyond belief sometimes the things people do. Should be ashamed of yourselves wasting valuable time! TheVoiceOfReason87
  • Score: 0

2:45pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Larouche says...

If the gas is harmless why has the Rouen vs Marseille game been called off? And also there have been numerous reports of sickness and headaches. Any ideas?
If the gas is harmless why has the Rouen vs Marseille game been called off? And also there have been numerous reports of sickness and headaches. Any ideas? Larouche
  • Score: 0

2:46pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Totton Ric says...

In Totton now,how can they say its not dangerous, people feeling sick in Totton & complaining of headaches from this smell !!!!
In Totton now,how can they say its not dangerous, people feeling sick in Totton & complaining of headaches from this smell !!!! Totton Ric
  • Score: 0

2:52pm Tue 22 Jan 13

geoff51 says...

Smells a bit like the old South western Tar distillery on Eling Quay
Trust the French to make a smell and send it to us! they never really liked us!
Smells a bit like the old South western Tar distillery on Eling Quay Trust the French to make a smell and send it to us! they never really liked us! geoff51
  • Score: 0

2:59pm Tue 22 Jan 13

SaffaInTheUk says...

And here was me thinking it was one of my dogs.
And here was me thinking it was one of my dogs. SaffaInTheUk
  • Score: 0

3:03pm Tue 22 Jan 13

lambo83 says...

How can we be sure it isn't just P*mpey?!
How can we be sure it isn't just P*mpey?! lambo83
  • Score: 0

3:04pm Tue 22 Jan 13

lambo83 says...

Joe Kirkup wrote:
Just thought it was the usual stench from Portsea Island.
****, you beat me to it!
[quote][p][bold]Joe Kirkup[/bold] wrote: Just thought it was the usual stench from Portsea Island.[/p][/quote]****, you beat me to it! lambo83
  • Score: 0

4:46pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Kerryp says...

Could smell it in Shirley Warren....
Could smell it in Shirley Warren.... Kerryp
  • Score: 0

5:01pm Tue 22 Jan 13

solomum says...

http://www.timesofma
lta.com/articles/vie
w/20120513/environme
nt/How-dangerous-is-
mercaptan-.419614 This gas is not harmless, though I would imagine the distance it has travelled will not cause significant harm to UK residents.
http://www.timesofma lta.com/articles/vie w/20120513/environme nt/How-dangerous-is- mercaptan-.419614 This gas is not harmless, though I would imagine the distance it has travelled will not cause significant harm to UK residents. solomum
  • Score: 0

5:27pm Tue 22 Jan 13

loosehead says...

God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill.
So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way?
Just another gift from Europe
God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill. So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way? Just another gift from Europe loosehead
  • Score: 0

5:42pm Tue 22 Jan 13

freefinker says...

loosehead wrote:
God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill.
So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way?
Just another gift from Europe
.. what do you mean by 'want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel'/

They already have - 4 of them. And you are right, we didn't get consulted.
[quote][p][bold]loosehead[/bold] wrote: God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill. So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way? Just another gift from Europe[/p][/quote].. what do you mean by 'want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel'/ They already have - 4 of them. And you are right, we didn't get consulted. freefinker
  • Score: 0

5:43pm Tue 22 Jan 13

cantthinkofone says...

Upper Shirley around 13:00 - I thought it was a gas leak or something.
Upper Shirley around 13:00 - I thought it was a gas leak or something. cantthinkofone
  • Score: 0

6:54pm Tue 22 Jan 13

georgetheseventh says...

The Normans are coming 'again'..you should be used to that smell..they are your relatives.
The Normans are coming 'again'..you should be used to that smell..they are your relatives. georgetheseventh
  • Score: 0

6:56pm Tue 22 Jan 13

georgetheseventh says...

Totton Ric wrote:
In Totton now,how can they say its not dangerous, people feeling sick in Totton & complaining of headaches from this smell !!!!
C-L-A-I-M...........
............
[quote][p][bold]Totton Ric[/bold] wrote: In Totton now,how can they say its not dangerous, people feeling sick in Totton & complaining of headaches from this smell !!!![/p][/quote]C-L-A-I-M........... ............ georgetheseventh
  • Score: 0

6:57pm Tue 22 Jan 13

SPIKEISLANDTRADER says...

We ve got their SNOW and now their SMELL , oh thank you France for sharing . But please keep what s yours in your own country , especially the Illegals that try to cross the channel
We ve got their SNOW and now their SMELL , oh thank you France for sharing . But please keep what s yours in your own country , especially the Illegals that try to cross the channel SPIKEISLANDTRADER
  • Score: 0

7:29pm Tue 22 Jan 13

memush says...

maiya0405 wrote:
I smelt it in Botley and then travelled to Hedge End and it was still there - presumed it was Fawley!
Oh yes blame Fawley.
everybody*s been doing that for the last 60 years.
[quote][p][bold]maiya0405[/bold] wrote: I smelt it in Botley and then travelled to Hedge End and it was still there - presumed it was Fawley![/p][/quote]Oh yes blame Fawley. everybody*s been doing that for the last 60 years. memush
  • Score: 0

7:43pm Tue 22 Jan 13

bigal007 says...

income tax was set up to help the armys when we was at war with france so we must have alot of tax in the pot now let have us a war with france once again lol!!
income tax was set up to help the armys when we was at war with france so we must have alot of tax in the pot now let have us a war with france once again lol!! bigal007
  • Score: 0

8:32pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Sovietobserver says...

It is a well known fact that the French use less soap and personal hygiene products than any other nation in Europe.
Allegedly, when they collect their fresh baguette in the morning, they tuck it under their arm to give it an extra special flavour.
It is a well known fact that the French use less soap and personal hygiene products than any other nation in Europe. Allegedly, when they collect their fresh baguette in the morning, they tuck it under their arm to give it an extra special flavour. Sovietobserver
  • Score: 0

8:39pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Linesman says...

Joe Kirkup wrote:
Just thought it was the usual stench from Portsea Island.
You thought?

Must be a first!
[quote][p][bold]Joe Kirkup[/bold] wrote: Just thought it was the usual stench from Portsea Island.[/p][/quote]You thought? Must be a first! Linesman
  • Score: 0

8:47pm Tue 22 Jan 13

OSPREYSAINT says...

Not Jason Puncheons fault after all. Or Gulys!
Not Jason Puncheons fault after all. Or Gulys! OSPREYSAINT
  • Score: 0

8:51pm Tue 22 Jan 13

loosehead says...

georgetheseventh wrote:
The Normans are coming 'again'..you should be used to that smell..they are your relatives.
Funny my name is Saxon?
[quote][p][bold]georgetheseventh[/bold] wrote: The Normans are coming 'again'..you should be used to that smell..they are your relatives.[/p][/quote]Funny my name is Saxon? loosehead
  • Score: 0

8:53pm Tue 22 Jan 13

loosehead says...

freefinker wrote:
loosehead wrote:
God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill.
So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way?
Just another gift from Europe
.. what do you mean by 'want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel'/

They already have - 4 of them. And you are right, we didn't get consulted.
I know theyre there & just shows another reason to get out of the EU as the placing of those plants showed the contempt the French hold of us
[quote][p][bold]freefinker[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]loosehead[/bold] wrote: God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill. So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way? Just another gift from Europe[/p][/quote].. what do you mean by 'want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel'/ They already have - 4 of them. And you are right, we didn't get consulted.[/p][/quote]I know theyre there & just shows another reason to get out of the EU as the placing of those plants showed the contempt the French hold of us loosehead
  • Score: 0

9:29pm Tue 22 Jan 13

Jimbo2012 says...

Torchie1 wrote:
Mercaptan Sulphur. Used as a Stenching Agent.
I smelt it in Eastleigh and my sister smelt it in Lymington.
[quote][p][bold]Torchie1[/bold] wrote: Mercaptan Sulphur. Used as a Stenching Agent.[/p][/quote]I smelt it in Eastleigh and my sister smelt it in Lymington. Jimbo2012
  • Score: 0

11:39pm Tue 22 Jan 13

gristle says...

I live in Southampton, didn't smell a thing.
Many noses sniffing nearby bums methinks. And reporting it to the Echo !
I live in Southampton, didn't smell a thing. Many noses sniffing nearby bums methinks. And reporting it to the Echo ! gristle
  • Score: 0

7:09am Wed 23 Jan 13

The Wickham Man says...

loosehead wrote:
God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill.
So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way?
Just another gift from Europe
They are already there Loosehead, several of them, and have been for over 2 decades, and you are quite safe. And not only that, you've been using some the electricity they generate, to make up the shortfalls in our own generating capacity because the labour government were afraid to renew our own nuclear stations. (There are a number of very large cables under the channel allowing us to buy French electricity). Thanks to them lives have been saved, not lost. Qustion is, when are we going to get our own instead of begging from the Frogs?
[quote][p][bold]loosehead[/bold] wrote: God now I know why we don't like the smelly frogs I could smell it here in Lordshill. So if the French want to build a Nuclear Power Station near to the Channel shouldn't we be asked & shouldn't we do checks on it as if anything goes wrong who's going to get the radioactive dust cloud coming their way? Just another gift from Europe[/p][/quote]They are already there Loosehead, several of them, and have been for over 2 decades, and you are quite safe. And not only that, you've been using some the electricity they generate, to make up the shortfalls in our own generating capacity because the labour government were afraid to renew our own nuclear stations. (There are a number of very large cables under the channel allowing us to buy French electricity). Thanks to them lives have been saved, not lost. Qustion is, when are we going to get our own instead of begging from the Frogs? The Wickham Man
  • Score: 0

8:23am Wed 23 Jan 13

Raxx says...

gristle wrote:
I live in Southampton, didn't smell a thing.
Many noses sniffing nearby bums methinks. And reporting it to the Echo !
What are you, five?
[quote][p][bold]gristle[/bold] wrote: I live in Southampton, didn't smell a thing. Many noses sniffing nearby bums methinks. And reporting it to the Echo ![/p][/quote]What are you, five? Raxx
  • Score: 0

8:35am Wed 23 Jan 13

davel_cats says...

Yesterday was the day of our annual boiler inspection. I smelled gas and asked the engineer to check everything twice - now I feel foolish as it was nothing to do with our central heating system at all!
Yesterday was the day of our annual boiler inspection. I smelled gas and asked the engineer to check everything twice - now I feel foolish as it was nothing to do with our central heating system at all! davel_cats
  • Score: 0

12:32pm Wed 23 Jan 13

SotonLad says...

Can't believe there are morons calling the police about this.
Can't believe there are morons calling the police about this. SotonLad
  • Score: 0

4:53pm Thu 24 Jan 13

kingnotail says...

At least it covered up Southampton's lingering odour of misery and disappointment for a few hours.
At least it covered up Southampton's lingering odour of misery and disappointment for a few hours. kingnotail
  • Score: 0

8:37pm Thu 24 Jan 13

loosehead says...

kingnotail wrote:
At least it covered up Southampton's lingering odour of misery and disappointment for a few hours.
Yes & it covered up a foul smelling Kingnotail
[quote][p][bold]kingnotail[/bold] wrote: At least it covered up Southampton's lingering odour of misery and disappointment for a few hours.[/p][/quote]Yes & it covered up a foul smelling Kingnotail loosehead
  • Score: 0

9:57pm Thu 24 Jan 13

apm1954 says...

thought rupert lowe was back in town
thought rupert lowe was back in town apm1954
  • Score: 0

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