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No gas leak detected, but equipment failure sent odor wafting across South Tampa

Published Dec. 22, 2016

TAMPA

TECO: malfunction — not a gas leak — led to odor

Several hundred customers of TECO Peoples Gas in South Tampa on Wednesday reported a possible leak, which the utility traced to the failure of equipment that adds odorant to natural gas.

The smell of the odorant, called mercaptan, wafted through several neighborhoods after an electronic regulator failed, according to a news release from TECO. Malfunctioning regulators are designed to inject too much odorant into the system rather than too little as a safety measure. There was no gas leak, officials said.

Natural gas is odorless, and mercaptan gives it a distinctive rotten-egg scent to help detect leaks. Officials said that the odor should dissipate within 48 hours.