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Strange Odor Sparks Concern in Calgary

Friday, May 1, 2020

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Over the weekend, Calgary Fire Department officials were summoned to investigate a pungent smell after receiving nearly 100 complaints—78 calls alone last Friday (April 24)—from the northeastern portion of the city.

According to reports, the odors was so terrible, it had locals feeling concerned for their safety, while others took to social media to share their descriptions of the smell, which ranged from “dead corpses” to “a giant litterbox.”

What Was the Cause?

While the reason for the odor was much less creative than what Calgarians joked about on the internet, investigators report that even their predictions were incorrect.

miroslav_1 / Getty Images

Over the weekend, Calgary Fire Department officials were summoned to investigate a pungent smell after receiving nearly 100 complaints—78 calls alone last Friday (April 24)—from the northeastern portion of the city.

“We used our gas detection instruments to assess for any flammable substance, natural gas and H2S,” Carol Henke with the Calgary Fire Department said. “None of these hazards were found during our numerous responses and subsequent investigations.”

After ruling out a possible gas leak, raw sewage or even a landfill, fire department investigators reported that the gaseous aroma was actually coming from a facility at the Calgary International Airport.

“It was a bit taxing on our resources… but thankfully we have been able to determine a cause,” Calgary Fire battalion chief Bruce Barrs said.

Specifically, the smell was a result of melting ice in a stormwater pond by the airport that sorts, treats and transports recycled water- and glycol-made deicing fluid.

Currently, the airport is home to two ponds that handle the deicing fluid. The Calgary Herald reports that the north pond directs the flow to the city’s water treatment plant and the south pond is treated onsite, adding that the airport has been recycling the fluid, recovered from tarmacs, since opening the facility in September 2017.

In collaboration with other airlines, the airport works to recover up to 30 per cent of the glycol sprayed (for de-icing) using specialized vacuum trucks as part of the Calgary Glycol Facility Consortium.

“With the significant rains, glycol materials in the stormwater pipes were released,” said airport spokesperson Reid Fiest. “We actively monitor the stormwater ponds and we will continue to monitor the situation.”

   

Tagged categories: Airports; Asia Pacific; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Environmental Controls; Latin America; non-potable water; North America; potable water; Stormwater; Wastewater Plants; Z-Continents

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